Hendersonville’s location in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina provides an ideal climate for apple growing. With an average elevation of 2,200 feet, the area experiences four distinct seasons without the harsh winters of higher climes or muggy summers of places farther east.
Apple orchards — many run by third, fourth, and fifth generations — are scattered along the back roads of Henderson County. The county leads the state in apple production and consistently ranks within the Top 10 producers in the nation.
Farmers traditionally sold their crops to wholesale buyers, who then distributed apples to larger retailers or processed them into sauce, butter, or juice. While the wholesale market still thrives, many orchards have opened their gates to visitors who want to set foot on the land where their food is grown, fill baskets with fruit they picked themselves, and show their children where apples really come from.
The Crest of the Blue Ridge Orchard trail maps out twenty orchards, farmers markets, and roadside stands, many with agritourism opportunities. In addition to picking apples, customers may take a hayride, pet barnyard animals, shoot an apple cannon, wander through a corn maze, relax in a rocking chair, and indulge in an apple cider doughnut fresh from the fryer.
With the growth of the hard cider industry, Hendersonville’s apples have found their way into the glass. Three cideries now operate in the county, and all use locally grown apples.
When Virginia-based Bold Rock Hard Cider — the largest craft cidery in the country — was looking for a location for its second production facility, Hendersonville’s ready source of fresh fruit attracted the company. Bold Rock now operates a state-of-the-art cidery, pressing barn, taproom, and cider garden just west of downtown.
Two Hendersonville natives opened Flat Rock Ciderworks as a nod to the local agriculture industry. The tasting room on Main Street pours creative ciders infused with blackberry, blueberry, pomegranate, and other fruits.
The newest craft producer, Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cider, makes dry, European-style cider. A renovated 1940s-era barn serves as the tasting room, and the newly planted orchard out back includes apple varieties imported from France.
At Burntshirt Vineyards, apple trees mingle with grape vines. The winery honors the local apple heritage with an apple wine, which balances crisp acidity with a subtle sweetness.
The Hendersonville Cheers! Trail includes three cideries, two wineries, and six breweries and encourages visitors to create customized itineraries to sample local flavors.
To learn more about Hendersonville apple country and request a free vacation guide, visit VisitHendersonvilleNC.org.