Apple Picking in Upstate New York

Dispatches from the Road, Food & Wine, United States — By on October 6, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Fall was always my favorite time of year growing up in Upstate-it means pumpkin carving and hay rides and apple cider. Last Sunday, I did something that’s a typical pastime in this area and went pumpkin- and apple-picking with my little brother.

By far the most popular place to pick apples is Beak & Skiff on Route 20. I don’t want to get into “When I was a kid I had to walk 20 miles in the snow just to get to school” mode, but man, have things changed since I used to visit this apple farm at nine years old. Back then there was only a small store selling fritters and fudge where kids could watch bees make honey and cider being pressed. Today it’s turned into something more similar to the State Fair. There are pony rides, go carts, sand-art stations, fish fry trucks, and more. The lines waiting for tractor pick up to take them out into the orchards with their waiting-to-be-filled-to-the-brim bags are about three times as long. Still, there’s nothing sweeter than eating a apple picked fresh off the tree, and sipping hot spiced cider on a cold fall day.

And there are some changes I’m able to appreciate more with age, such as the Beak & Skiff distillery tasting room, which recently opened so patrons can sample the first 50 cases of apple vodka that have been bottled. Across the street there’s even a winery selling crisp apple rose and hard cider for under $15. Beak & Skiff plans on eventually making gin and eaux de vie (brandies) from apples. Wine tasting. Apple picking. Tractor rides. It’s my idea of a perfect Sunday afternoon in autumn. If you’re from the city, it’s worth the road trip.

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  • Josh says:

    This post makes me miss the "real" Fall–I live in San Francisco now, so I have to escape the city to appreciate things like seeing the leaves change 🙂

    To live vicariously through others, I started up this "Fall Festivities" challenge on our site ( to encourage people to show us how they celebrate Fall in their hometowns–thought you might be interested:


  • Millican_Jorrit says:

    Fall here in the Lake District, UK, feels very different. It's about damp mist over the fields, pheasants everywhere, and the swift assembling of the log pile in anticipation of cold nights to come. I love the sound of that hot spicy cider.