How About Them Apples: A Trip to Mercier Orchard

November 10, 2018

Continuing on the theme of fall before I am accosted with pre-Thanksgiving Christmas commercials, mall Santas everywhere, and the onslaught of holiday madness, I wanted to share something on my ultimate autumn bucket list. The season offers so many great activities, and one that has always topped the list for me is visiting an orchard (it's still apple-pickin' season, y'all!) One of the best places to do that (near Chattanooga, anyway), is Mercier Orchard. Even if you don't live that close, it's worth the drive. Trust me.

Located in Blue Ridge, GA and just a little over an hour and a half from Chattanooga, you'll find Mercier Orchard: "home of the best damn apples" (their unofficial slogan, coined by yours truly. Just now). Family owned and operated, this little farm has been gracing the world with apple goodness since 1943. We're talking a legit apple-lover's paradise: fried pies, apple cider (& their partner in crime, the apple cider donut), apple butter, apple jelly, apple fritters, apple wine....I think they also sell regular apples here too, but don't quote me on that (hopefully you felt the sarcasm in that one).

We started our day with a hay ride tour of the orchard. It was a fun way to learn about the orchard and get a little bit of a behind-the-scenes view, since apple-picking was not currently being offered (they only let you pick your own during special events). I'll give you the abbreviated 5 second version & you guys just pretend you're on a tractor, leisurely ambling along a gravel path, the cool breeze blowing through your hair, your infant child screeching on your lap (no? Just me? Ok, let's scratch that last part.) The orchard has over 100,000 trees spread across 300 acres and grows over 50 different varieties of apples. It also has a large retail space, bursting at the seams with more apple merch than I would even know what to do with and boasts more than 600,000 visitors a year - so yeah, it's basically like the Disneyland of orchards.

Post-hayride photo op by the pond
That hayride left us pretty hungry after hearing about all the different kinds of apples we could choose from, so we headed inside, where there was so much more to do beyond touring the orchard. There you'll find the store fully stocked with treasures like local honey, jam, and every apple product known to man, a bakery with workers slinging fried pies & fritters left and right, and a sample counter where you can taste-test multiple different varieties of apples (the Mutzu was our favorite; don't be fooled - it may sound like a breed of dog but it's a crisp, tart apple served straight from the fruit gods.)

If your apple slice samples have left your taste buds craving more, do yourself a flavor (I couldn't resist) and post up in the tasting room. Here you can try everything from hard ciders and apple wine varieties to wine slushes. I opted for a cider/wine mixed flight because my indecisive heart just can't commit. A girl needs options, what can I say?

Legends: sweet yet tart | Grumpy: tart & dry | Rock Steady Red: strawberry/apple blend | Peachy: peachy champagne cider (my favorite)
After imbibing and then buying the entire store's inventory (don't drink & shop), we loaded our car down with more fried pies than I'd like to admit and pilgrimaged out to the Blue Ridge Mountains for some scenic views (y'all know I love my mountains). I had dressed for the ocassion (no surprise there), and donned my most oh-I-just-came-from-apple-picking-and-threw-this-together "fall look."

Blanket scarf - local boutique (similar varieties here) | Rainboots - Hunter (cheaper here & cheapest here) | Long sleeve - Target
For this look, I wanted to do some fun fall layers, so I started with a basic striped long sleeve and used one of my 10+ blanket scarves as a cardigan (addict. Guilty as charged) and belted that sucker. As for the shoes, Hunter boots are kind of a must for me during fall. I wear them all the time, usually sans rain. If it rains, and I happen to be wearing these red beauties, that's just a bonus in my book. 

To top it off (ha), I donned the quintessential autumn pièce de résistance: the floppy hat. Not to be confused with its counterparts, the Derby or the Beachy, the Autumn is usually color-coordinated to the season (neutrals & jewel tones) and comes in materials like felt and wool. But hey, no judgement here if you want to parade around in your boots, scarves, and an oversized Derby hat. You do you, babe.

If you need me, I'll be over here in my scarf, wistfully looking off into the distance and dreaming about which type of fried pie I'll be enjoying fireside with a glass of apple wine. 

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