The dramatic change of seasons is one of my favourite Washington experiences.
Four distinct periods each with its own personality, its own colours, flavours and festivities.
Fall’s flavours are the most pronounced for me, particularly here in the Pacific Northwest. Our trees of green are accented with bright golden hues. We’re treated to crisp but long days, fresh new produce and harvest festivals. It makes our all-too-short summers almost forgivable.
While my love affair with fall was well noted last year, I never got the chance to go apple picking – one of Washington’s quintessential autumn activities.
Apples are Washington’s biggest agricultural product, supplying more than 70% of the United States’ apples. That said, it’s no wonder that apple fever strikes in the September harvest season. Farms across the state open for U-Pick, and delicious fruity treats including fresh pressed cider, fritters, pies and butters can be found everywhere.
Eager to waste no time this year, I ventured in search of apples as soon as we returned from our southern USA road trip. Destination? The highly recommended BelleWood Acres.
BelleWood Acres is a working farm, and one of western Washington’s largest apple orchards. It’s home to approximately 25,000 apple trees of more than 20 juicy varietals!
Located just outside of Bellingham, it made the perfect Friday afternoon outing before hitting up a new local brewery.
I was impressed as soon as I walked into the farm store and noticed they offer tasting samples of all the different apples that were available. Visitors can really try before they buy, or try before they pick. I was totally sold on BelleWood as I stepped outside and saw majestic Mt Baker towering over the farm.
We wandered for a while through the rows of honeycrisp and Bellewood Prince (the farm’s own style similar to a jonagold), picking the juiciest, brightest apples we could find.
A blue sky day with the sun beating down through the orchards.
BelleWood Acres is certainly a destination for fruit picking. In addition to the many U-Pick options, their produce shop offers many more apple varietals, other fresh locally grown produce, apple cider and small goods.
On weekends they operate the ‘Apple Bin Express’: a small train that takes families through the orchards to pick the ripest apples. During fall there are U Pick pumpkins and a corn maze to enjoy.
There’s also an onsite café serving breakfast and lunch. I’ll have to return for food with farmland views!
After filling our bag of delicious red and gold fruit (and befriending horses), it was time to checking out BelleWood’s on site distillery and tasting room.
So-called ‘Farm to Flask’ distilleries are rising in popularity in Washington’s orchard regions, where producers are distilling their apples to create a range of spirits.
But BelleWood is not just following the trend. It was one of the first, and is now award-winning – their gin has won gold and bronze medals at American distillers awards.
This afternoon we tasted vodkas, gin and an Eau de Vie style brandy, all distilled using BelleWood apples – as well as their sparkling apple cider. All were delicious, but it was the gin that won over my heart and my wallet, before buying some delicious cider from the farm store as well.
We had such a fun afternoon apple picking at BelleWood Acres and I totally recommend it to fellow fruit fiends!
The Fine Print: BelleWood Acres U-Pick apples is typically open until early November, however I recommend checking their website or Facebook page for up to date information on harvest availability before you visit.
Farm to Glass Distillery Tours run Saturday and Sunday year round, giving visitors a behind-the-scenes look at how they turn their apples into spirits ($10pp book online). As we visited on a Friday, we were only able to access the tasting room which is open daily and offers free tastings.
All apple adventures were funded by me. Any sponsored content will always be disclosed.
Do you go apple picking in the fall? Where are your favourite U-Pick farms?
Like this story? Pin the below graphic for later!
Apple picking apple picking apple picking
apple picking apple picking apple picking