Family orchards and a weekly farmers market offer September’s heirloom apples, wine-bound grapes and pie-ready pears.
On the Cascade Mountains’ eastern slopes, the Lake Chelan Valley’s sunny skies, crisp nights and rich soil create the perfect growing climate, just 160 miles east of Seattle.
Family orchards and a weekly farmers market offer September’s heirloom apples, wine-bound grapes and pie-ready pears. October’s haul includes pumpkins and winter squash. Wineries set out sips of mature tastings from past-season picks, and don’t miss cideries proposing fresh-pressed apple ciders.
If your taste buds are already tingling, here are ways to enjoy some of autumn’s most soul-nourishing foods — while enjoying the spectacular attraction of Lake Chelan in fall, from u-picks of colorful apple trees to old-fashioned community festivals.
Glacier Fed Organics opens up their organic orchards for a u-pick extravaganza until the end of October — weekdays by appointment, and on Saturday mornings from 8 to noon. Select from three apple varieties — the traditional sweet Galas and sweet-tart Honeycrisps and the newer SweeTangos, a juicy Honeycrisp cross with a sweet-tangy flavor. The end of October brings pumpkins and cider.
While there, check out the organic garden and produce, a wishing well and adorable silkie chicks, and (free) views of Lake Chelan from the farm’s deck. For more information: 509-630-8039.
Farmers market. The Thursday evening Chelan Farmers Market sets up more than 20 stands through September 26th, right in scenic Riverwalk Park. Visitors and locals alike can select from autumn’s bounty, including wild-crafted mushrooms, goat cheese, and produce including apples, pears and the last of the “good tomatoes” (local, not shipped in from out-of-state).
Sept. 19, the market’s Apple Pie Festival will celebrate a favorite fruit, offering apple-related crafts and pie contest — apple, of course. At every market, visitors will find artisan crafts, live music and sweet treats to round out the offerings.
Crush Festival. If you’ve ever been curious about the winemaking process, get a hands-on introduction at Crush Festival, which takes place over two October weekends (October 5-6, October 12-13). Grapes are picked, stemmed and smashed in giant juicers.
You’ll have a chance to sample the unfermented, direct-from-the-source juice, and find out how fermentation initiates the winemaking process.
Harvest Festival. To reach this history-rich festival, take the Lady of the Lake passenger ferry to the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, and the tiny mountain town of Stehekin, at the northern end of 50.5-mile Lake Chelan. There, you’ll find the historic Buckner homestead and orchard, now owned and maintained by the National Park Service, and supported by the Stehekin’s nonprofit Buckner Homestead Heritage Foundation.
Oct. 4-6, the homestead hosts a free apple-picking extravaganza — The 11th Annual Buckner Orchard Harvest Fest. On Friday night, there’s an evening of music at the Stehekin School before the big day begins. On Saturday at 10 a.m., families and fruit-lovers pluck Common Delicious, Jonathans and Rome Beauties off trees, pressing into cider on-site (BYOC — bring your own container).
A post-pick potluck with hot chili and live music help replenish hard workers. On Sunday night, Bakery Log Cabin #1 hosts a community poetry reading.
Wine tasting. Visit the region’s wineries where grapes, apples and pears are grown, processed and transformed into wine and hard cider. Some orchards, such as Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards and Lake Chelan Winery offer tours of fruit fields and orchards.
Private wine tours for small groups can be arranged through one of the region’s private excursion, limo and tour services. Options might include a four-hour or six-hour tour with lunch or dinner options — without any worries on how you’ll get back to your hotel. For more information: lakechelanwinevalley.com
Roadside market stand. Stop by Lone Pine Fruit & Espresso, which sells locally sourced fruits — some grown on-site and others from neighboring farms in small towns, including Quincy, Manson and Orondo. The produce changes weekly, and may feature fresh apples, pears, peaches, pumpkins and plums.
If you’re seeking something sweeter, choose from house-made fruit pies, cookies and bread, served inside an apple-packing shed more than 100 years old. Or create a picnic, by adding a microbrewery beer, Lake Chelan AVA wine or cider from the comprehensive bottle selection — or filling your own growler from an IPA on tap.
Uncommon options include fruit wines, port, and mead, a fermented drink made from honey.
Whether you want to get outside and pick your own apples, or cozy up next to the fire and enjoy a slice of freshly made pie, harvest season in Lake Chelan offers all the best fall has to offer.
In Lake Chelan you’ll find four seasons of wine, sun, stunning natural beauty and adventures you can tune to your own tastes.