It’s fall. It’s Central New York. It’s apple time. Add to that the fact that the only Syracuse Orange football action this week is against the Fightin’ Byes, and you all should be ready for a rip-roaring weekend of raking leaves and picking apples. Since the bye week came early, it’s appropriate that we’re dropping the 2020 CNY Apple Orchard Power Rankings, because we can.
#1 - Beak and Skiff - Lafayette
The undisputed number one, like Carmelo in 2003. Tough to get the USA Today nod as top orchard in the country and fall out of the top of the local rankings. Beyond the plethora of apples, the on site bakery has everything you need and they’ve created a whole campus related to apples and apple accessories. Hell, they’ve got a distillery and cidery under the 1911 brand on site as well. There’s a lot going on there and it’s deserving of the nod.
The only mark in the loss column for them would be that they tend to be a bit crowded, especially in the 2020 timeline. This year, the playing field was leveled a little as well with the cancellation of the summer concert series, which is usually a solid lineup.
#2 Abbott Farms - Baldwinsville
Solid all around #BRAND, Abbotts is also a standout farm-stand through the rest of the year. A utility player who gets added benefit of having a solid apple orchard on top of their other line of products. As is the new trend, they have a winery and cidery on location. All small-batch type work, so it’s unique and can be quite tasty.
#3 Behling Orchard - Mexico
Part of the northern contingent, Behling’s is located near Mexico. Like many recruits from the northern regions, they’re a little unheralded until you dive deeper. Again, a family friendly atmosphere, on-site carmel apples and a cider press they’ve been operating the same way since 1947.
#4 Critz Farms - Cazenovia
Ranking riding on the back of their family friendly campus, Critz’s has a good bit of variety, with the playground and hay mountains, the corn maze, petting zoo and of course wagon rides to get to your apples. Harvest Moon cidery is their hard cider brand and they also brew their own beer, so you can have happy kids and adults all in one stop.
#5 O’Neills Orchard - Lafayette
Apples and barbeque. It’s the rover position of the fall that you didn’t know you needed. Combining these two options makes for a good day, no matter what else happens. Also the standard on site amenities, fritters, donuts, etc. to compliment the fact that they’re an orchard that serves barbeque. Did I mention there’s barbeque
#6 Owen Orchards - Weedsport
A great visit on the west side of the city, heading towards Auburn from Syracuse, Owen Orchards keep it simple and concise. You’ve got quality apples, quality old-school cider donuts and some real solid home-made cider (and hard cider).
#7 Burrell’s Navarino Orchard - Navarino
A smaller shop on the Route 20 corridor, they’re stock is rising with the quality of their apple fritters (and a fritter sundae, because why not?). Above and beyond most in the area. How they do it, I don’t know. Bonus points for the store carrying River Rat cheese curd, because I’m a north country boy born and bred and I need quality cheese curd.
Honorable Mentions (Mostly based on lack of personal knowledge)
Deer Run Orchard - Lafayette
Another option down on the Route 20 corridor, or “Apple Valley” down in Lafayette. I just haven’t made it there myself.
Rocking Horse Farms - Jamesville
Another utility option, like Rhino himself, they have a Christmas tree farm on site, the pick your own apples and alpacas! They also have an alpaca gift shop, because who doesn’t need an alpaca gift shop.
Adams Acres - Jamesville
An organic option for those who want organic options, they are NOFA certified.
Fruit Valley Orchards - Oswego
Apples, pears, sweet and sour cherries, plums, you can get a plethora of options right in Oswego. That’s about all I know on this one, but I’m now intrigued on pick your own plums. Because plums are delicious.
So where do we need to go from here? Who’s trending up? Who’s trending down? Let us know in the comments.