Ya’all, I got a lot to share with you today. First, I’m taking you on a virtual apple orchard visit, then we’re talking about a fall party. So cozy on up in your favorite sweater with a mug of coffee, or you know, a glass of wine.
It’s undoubtedly, officially fall. It’s definitely sweater weather and the tomatoes are pretty much done . . . sad, but true. But it’s OK, because there’s football and pumpkins and colorful leaves and spices and soup and apple orchards. Have you visited any apple orchards yet? If you’re in the Driftless Region, I highly highly highly recommend Ecker’s Apple Orchard for your next apple orchard visit.
Trust me on this one, k? You not only get delicious apples, but you also get beautiful scenery, an orchard market with specialty foods and bake shop, an observational beehive (yes, you can buy their honey), a beer garden, and a whimsical sense of humor. Wowzas! At certain times, they also have food trucks, live music, and events.
Apple Orchard Visit
My mom and I recently visited Ecker’s, and I want to gush about our experience and the orchard in general! Ecker’s is located in Trempealeau, WI, in the Driftless Area. The Driftless Area is a region primarily in Southwestern Wisconsin, but also Northwestern Illinois, Southeastern Minnesota, and Northeastern Iowa. During the last glacial period, this area was surrounded by glaciers, yet was left untouched resulting in remarkably sculpted topography, such as forested bluffs nose-diving deep into valleys separated by trout streams and winding rivers.
Needless to say, tucked in the driftless region, this apple orchard visit is charmingly scenic. But what else? Truly delicious apples, of course! Their farm boasts trees of 20 cultivars that ripen and mature throughout the fall season. While there, we picked Honeycrisp and Haralson, but it sounds like Ecker’s now has Regent and Snow Sweet currently available for picking as well. However, they also have a vast variety of pre-picked apples. They are not pre-bagged, so you can simply show up and pick out exactly what you want. Check out all their varietals here.
My mom was totally in it for the Honeycrisps. If you like apples, you undoubtedly know Honeycrisps are basically the darling of the apple world. Love Honeycrisps as I may, I was partial to Haralson’s tart, juicy flavor and crunch. All I could talk about was how I couldn’t wait to bake with them (recipe coming soon).
P.S. How cute is my mom down there? We’re both wanderers, but we never lost each other because I could constantly hear her talking to the apples. Any time one would fall off a tree, she’d deeply apologize, “Oh! I’m so sorrrrrrrry little apple.” Clearly, my love of food comes from her. If you don’t feel like walking through the orchard, they also have a John Deere train, the Honeycrisp Express. Take a ride and tell me what you think!
Aside from picking apples we also picked up some specialty goods from the orchard market, like salsa and honey butter. Ecker’s extracts honey from their own beehives each year around the end of August. The bees not only provide honey, but they also pollinate apple blossoms in the spring. You can dispense your own honey right at the market. They provide honey bears but you can bring your own jar if you prefer. Their honey has a lovely mild and floral flavor. I will be back for more. Check out their site here to see everything they offer, like their gourmet caramel, which is baked on site in the finest copper kettle equipment.
But you guys, they also have a BEER GARDEN: Hog’s Back Brew Farm and it’s right in the middle of the orchard. I had no idea when I originally planned our apple orchard visit. As a gal that rarely turns down a good bev, I was happily surprised. Currently, their tap lines feature craft brews from all over the country. However, they hope to have an operational, on-site brewery by 2019 crafting small-batch beer using resources from their farm.
Future plans include harvesting rainwater to clean tanks, installing solar panels to off-set the energy needed to brew beer and maintain key temperatures, and using fruits, hops and other brewing adjuncts grown on farm to produce interesting and delicious beers with a sense of terroir unique to Trempealeau and our Driftless Region.
I mean, is that awesome or is that awesome? YEP, it’s awesome. Even awesomer? They recently released their very own hard apple cider, Fat Blossom Girls. Ya’all know I’m a sucker for a play on words.
OK, I’m done gushing. I have zero affiliation with the Orchard, I just really enjoyed their farm and philosophy. If you want to pick apples, you have to hurry though, k? Apple picking season is shortly coming to a close.
Or maybe you want to check out one of their events? The 9th annual Honeycrisp Hootenanny is October 28–29 (lawn chairs, flannel, and beards are encouraged). According to their site, it’s a day packed with bluegrass music, food trucks, and damn good beer (30 rotating taps to be exact). There’ll also be food trucks, yoga in the orchard, handmade items from local artists, a bonfire, and everything imaginable made from APPLES. Check out the deets here. You just might see me there 😉
All that apple picking got me super excited to host a fall party, because, erm, I love fall. I invited my mom, sisters, nieces, and a dear friend over for a weekend lunch party to celebrate all things fall and each other. So, I figured why not do a 3-part series featuring the recipes in case you want to throw your own fall party.
Here’s a little sneak peak on what we’ll be serving:
- Cocktail: French 75s
- Lunch: French Onion Soup
- Dessert: Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
OK, stay tuned and Happy Fall!