Saturday was what the weather folks around here call a top ten weather day. It was sunny, not too hot, light breeze, simply lovely. We knew the weather was promised to be amazing, so Friday night we talked about going to do our apple orchard trip on Saturday. Looking at the website for our usual spot, Aamodt’s Apple Farm in Stillwater, I noticed that the pick your own apples was not going to be available. Looking even further I saw that they were having a grape stomp festival all weekend. I’ve been to a grape stomp and it was a ton of fun, but that wasn’t the vibe we were going for.
Saturday morning I did some more research and discovered that Deardorff Orchards in Delano, MN might just fit the criteria we were looking for. Pick your own apples, a few activities for kids, food options and a winery attached. Perfect. We had visited the winery a number of years ago, but not the orchard, so I was excited to see what they had for us to enjoy!
It took us about 40 minutes or so to drive west of the cities to the orchard. The staff was friendly and helpful right when we walked up to the barn. We were told they were letting folks pick SweeTango apples that day (special blend developed by the U of M) and that we could take a wagon ride out to the picking area. We love the SweeTangos so we were pretty excited! Ollie loved the wagon ride but I think he loved picking the apples even more!
We opted for the 1/2 peck option and let me tell you, we crammed that bag full. The trees were full of gloriously red, shiny apples. There were plenty of low branches for Ollie to get to. And he loved it even more when one of the staff members told us if we saw any apples with obvious holes in them that we could throw them at the base of the tree! After we filled our bag we wandered through the trees and by the vineyard a bit and of course, Blogger Mom took tons of pictures. Then the wagon came and took us back to the main area.
There was a giant tractor near the barn that we had permission to climb on. Ollie was unsure at first, but I got up on it to show him it was safe and fun and then he was definitely happy to climb up and sit with me and pretend to drive us around!
The winery was open at this point, so while Ollie happily played on a table with his cars, Nate and I did a little tasting. $10 got us six wine samples and a full glass of our choice. We also bought their cheese and cracker platter and then sat outside and had a little picnic. They had games to play with much like some of the taprooms we visit, so Ollie was excited to pick a game to play.
After we’d satisfied our hunger and gaming spirit, we wandered around a bit more. They have goats, bunnies and sheep, so we said hello to all of them. Then Ollie played on this giant hay bale they have for kids and he loved that. Nate ran back in and bought some apple wood chips for the next time he smokes some meats and then we decided we were ready to go home. We easily spent three, almost four hours out there. It was a blast. Ollie conked out on the way home, so I’d say we played hard!
I feel like Deardorff is a great in between option for an apple orchard. I’ll explain what I mean. The apple orchard I grew up going to with my parents has a lot of apples and goodies and a great space, but not very many activities and no pick your own. Aamodts and some others in the area have pick your own and tons of activities, to the point it can be overwhelming, especially for our Ollie boy who isn’t a huge fan of big crowds. Deardorff was a nice mix, there were activities but it wasn’t overwhelming. I am definitely a fan and I can see us going back there again in the years to come!
If you go:
Deardorff Orchards and Parley Lake Winery –
8282 Parley Lake Road, Waconia, Minnesota 55387
Open Tues-Sunday 10 am to 6 pm