Stribling Farm & Chateau O'Brien Winery

When we went to Stribling Orchard for some last-minute apple picking, we had NO IDEA that Travel + Leisure had rated it one of America's Best Apple Picking Farms! Wowzers. Talk about impressive.

This place is great for kids and adults alike--and it doesn't hurt if the weather happens to be a perfect 75 degrees without a cloud in the sky. Just about an hour from the stressful, hustle-bustle city life is a place where your biggest problem is picking more apples than you can comfortably carry. Thirty acres of apples to roam around, marked by a color-coding system so you know what's in season and what's for baking v. eating.

Other things: Bring a picnic! And if you arrive in the early afternoon, please get in line for a pie BEFORE you pick--we waited more than a half hour on line in the store (which had treats like jams, preserves, honeys, bbq sauce (!!) not to mention the pies, breads, and turnovers) only to watch the last pie get sold. One mom pre-paid for 2 pies, and she was prepared to make her family wait 45 minutes until they were cooked and cooled. I KNOW that earlier the line wasn't nearly as long and they were not out of pies.

The only baked item left when we got to the front was this apple raisin bread. Darn.

I'm kidding about the darn, of course. This "bread" was like an enormous fluffy pastry. If you squeeze the loaf, it squished for you, then slowly rose back up. It was filled with fresh apples--not apple "flavor."

And did I mention they let you use adult tools?!

Stribling Orchard
Markham, VA
Getting there: You take 66, and then just hop off. Directions on the web site.

NEXT! Just like our previous U-Pick experience (Bluemont Vineyard after strawberry-picking at Great Country Farms ), tired out from our farmwork, we headed to the closest vineyard. About 2, maybe 3 minutes away is Chateau O'Brien.

The tasting room was CRAZY--there are two, one for the regular $5 tasting, and one for the $10 cellar tasting. We had enough standing around after the major line for our apple bread, and we were in need of a snack. A crusty baguette and cheese plate later, with a glass of apple wine (the owner said it's too sweet for him--on this beautiful day, especially after picking, I thought it was just right) and a glass of the Northpoint Red, and we were set up juuuust fine on the amazing patio.

What views! Also, we usually only go to wineries in the summer--an exception for the mulled wine at Swedenburg. So this is one of the few times we've really seen the grapes hanging on the vines.

They are pretty into Tannat--I'd like to try it on my next visit. Is it the grape that will make Virginia wines great, as the CO proprietors claim? Maybe. But it's not native, like Norton.

The inside space at Chateau O'Brien is also really nice--a lot of places in the NoVa wine trail are all about their outdoor space, with plenty of room for picnicking, etc, but very little indoor seating. Understandable, because mostly people come for a tasting. But I can see curling up in the coziness of Chateau O'Brien on a winter weekend afternoon, sipping a deep red wine in a big comfy sweater. Almost makes me look forward to winter...almost.

Chateau O'Brien

Markham, VA
Getting there: We just followed the signs after the exit for Markham.

1 comment:

  1. We LOVE Stribling and its fresh-baked apple bread. We're also fans of Hartland Orchard, which is nearby to Stribling and actually sells unpasteurized apple cider.

    Good choice! We're headed out there this weekend to do pretty much the same stuff you did.