Often during the early months of our season, people ask, "Where are the apples?" Apples grow and ripen on a fairly strict schedule; however, it's all weather dependent. 2018—a late freeze disaster; 2019—hot, dry, early harvest; 2020–temps baked the apples on their branches; and 2021—perfect weather, perfect harvest. 2022—remains a mystery.

If you're visiting early in the season (May-late June), don't expect to see crates of apples, or even be able to pick anything. Mother Nature is a strict and sometimes fickle old lady and doesn't make exceptions. If you aren't certain when your favorite apple will be ready for picking, check out the availability below. If you're still not sure, email us.  We're happy to help you plan your visit, but please understand that we can only predict a couple of days in advance.

IN SEASON and beginning sometime in August, apples are available at the store or for U-Pick (a favorite for the kids).

PECK: $14 ~ HALF PECK: $8 ~ BUSHEL: $45

(peck approximately 8 dry quarts)

Heirloom Apples

The children of some distant day, thus to some aged man shall say, “Who planted this old apple tree?” — William Cullen Bryant

At the Orchard at Altapass, the answer to that question is “The Clinchfield Railroad.” Creighton Lee Calhoun, noted pomologist and author of Old Southern Apples, defines heirloom apples as those varieties that were grown prior to the time when “groceries” became the main source of fruit for most people, which he believes was the late 1920’s. Many of our apple trees were planted by the original owners, making them heirlooms in every sense of the word.

The geography of the Orchard is well suited for apple growing. Located on a southeast-facing slope, it is frost free most of the time. On crisp spring nights when the blossoms are susceptible to frost, cold air slides down the mountain, where it is replaced at the Orchard by warm air. The rising sun likewise helps to protect the young fruit by quickly warming the slope at sunrise. 

The earliest apple to ripen is the Yellow Transparent in June, the latest, York. And in between bushels of the over 25 varieties available. Some of the favorites:

A Word About Our Apples

"Ugly apples" are caused by minimal use of chemicals. We are a 501c3 public charity dedicated to preserving the land and the life that exists on that land, which includes bees and butterflies. We are not an organic orchard. We tolerate surface damage to avoid harm to these innocent critters. The flavor of the apples remains, if not enhanced by the lack of heavy chemicals. In addition to preserving our Orchard, we are surrounded by 3,000 acres of forest land forever protected from development. We are mindful of a larger responsibility to maintain a balance in our eco-system—all life at the Orchard at Altapass.

Our Varieties

  Aunt Rachel N/A

 early Aug

 semi-tart  eating~cooking

 Apples red with dark stripes~

 flesh is white, firm~juicy

  Red Blaze  late July  semi-tart  eating~baking

 cross between Jonathan & Grimes Golden~

 smooth cherry red~crisp

  Florina N/A

 Sept  sweet  eating~cooking  medium w/maroon-red blush over light green


 Sept  sweet  eating  cross between Kidd's Orange Red & Golden Delicious

  Ginger Gold

 Aug  sharp-sweet  eating~baking~cooking  mild yet sharper than Golden Delicious~stores well

  Golden Delicious

 Sept-Oct  sweet  eating~baking  golden w/red blush~crisp
  Grimes Golden  Sept  sweet


 apple butter

 parent to Golden Delicious~golden color


 Sept  sweet-sour  eating~cooking  green-yellow w/crimson, brindled color~crisp

  Early June

 mid July  tart  applesauce~baking  smooth red, slightly conical~does not keep well

  King Luscious

 early Oct  sweet  eating~cooking  large~red skin~stores well

  Limbertwig LIMITED

 early Oct  semi-sweet  eating  large~greenish yellow w/red blush~juicy, tender

  Lodi (Yellow Transparent)

 late July  tart  applesauce  small greenish
  McIntosh  Aug-Sept  sweet  eating~applesauce

 whitish yellow to greenish blushed w/red~firm, juicy~


  Mother LIMITED

 Sept  sweet  eating~cooking  deep red skin~does not store well

  Razor Russet LIMITED

 Sept-Oct  sweet  eating~cooking  med to large w/golden brown russeted skin~stores well

  Roxbury Russet LIMITED

 Sept-Oct  tart/sweet  eating~baking  medium-grained~light yellow w/green~crisp

  Sheep Nose LIMITED

 late Sept  mildly sweet  baking~drying  large, uniquely oblong w/deep black-red skin~crisp
  Stayman Winesap  Sept-Oct  tart~crunchy  eating~sauces~baking

 red conical w/crimson stripes~

 stores well

  Summer Rambo

 Aug-Sept  sweet  eating~cooking~baking  medium size~mottled skin w/red stripes

  Virginia Beauty

 Sept-Oct  sweet  eating~baking  wine color w/gold russeting at stem~stores weeks

  William's Favorite N/A

 late July  sweet  eating~cooking  aka Summer Queen~conical w/red & green skin

  Wolf River N/A

 late Sept  tart  cooking~drying  large~only fair eating
  York (Imperial)  Sept-Oct  tart-sweet



 sweetens over time~stores extremely well



1025 Orchard Road

Spruce Pine, NC 28777

Blue Ridge Parkway
(mile marker 328.3)



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