What to do on a Apple Harvest Season trip to Stanthorpe
Did you know ALL of Queensland’s apple crop is grown around Stanthorpe?! Apples and also the Granite Belt winery grapes are picked in harvest season, during February, March and April.
Tips for experiencing apple harvest season…
1. Taste Stanthorpe Apple Ciders
Crisp local apples are a great temptation for Granite Belt brewers and the result… a delicious way to dive into a Stanthorpe apple tasting!
Head to the bar at Granite Belt Brewery to taste Geoff’s Applethorpe Cider, made with just fresh local apple juice and yeast – it’s a popular inclusion on their beer tasting paddles. Cedric the brewer at Castle Glen Australia crafts an Apple Cider, made with apples grown at the Castle Glen Farm… and yeah this spot isn’t just a castle by name, taste this cider inside the castle Cedric built!
Farmer David produces two kinds of cider at Sutton’s Juice Factory Cidery & Cafe: a full-bodied Dry Cider and a sweeter standard Cider, which during harvest season are made with apples grown onsite at Sutton’s Farm and at other times of the year from nearby orchards.
Photo: Add an Apple Cider to your Granite Belt Brewery tasting paddle
2. Eat Apple Pie on an Apple Farm
The cafe at Sutton’s Apple Farm is open 7 days and it’s a ‘must-do’ deep-dive into the many varied tastes of the Stanthorpe apple!
Most famous is the Sutton’s Apple Pie, which have become a Stanthorpe icon. Each pie is packed with about 24 apples, wrapped in pastry made from scratch and served with their own special recipe apple cider icecream.
There’s much to taste on the apple farm at Sutton’s Juice Factory Cidery and Cafe: apple juice, apple cider, apple cider vinegar, apple syrup, apple brandy, liqueurs and preserves.
3. A Tour and Brunch in the Orchard
Join a walking tour through the orchards on McMahon Bros Orchard with, 4th generation orchardist David McMahon. Book to join one of the weekend Orchard Experience tours for the opportunity to hear the story of apple production from the farmer himself. The tours are followed by a brunch set in the orchard.
NOTE: Brunch & Tours are currently suspended and expected to re-commence from approximately March 2021 (to be confirmed, check Orchard Experience Facebook page for updates, or ph 0498 138 410).
4. Join a Cycle Tour through the Orchards
Cycle along country roads lined with orchards. Granite Belt Bicycle Tours offer bicycle hire, or join a fully guided tour. The Castles, Cafe’s and Cabernet bicycle adventure tour covers stretches of road lined with apple orchards in between seeing the sights (including Donnelly’s Castle, Stanthorpe Cheese and Castle Glen Australia to name a few).
5. Take a Country Drive through the Orchards along Amiens Road
Take a country drive north of Stanthorpe along Amiens Road – the best spot for spotting apple orchards! From the Big Apple (on the New England highway at Thulimbah) drive west on Amiens Road, past Castle Glen Australia and continue past Stanthorpe Cheese towards Passchendaele State Forest. This whole area is lined with apple trees and makes for a very pretty drive at harvest time.
6. Buy Farm Fresh Apples
During harvest season the crispest, sweetest, new season apples are available to buy. Two spots you can guarantee to find the freshest fruit:
- Direct from the farmer at the Seasonal Feast Markets on Fridays 8am-2pm in the Piazza next to Vixens Bakery in the Stanthorpe CBD.
- Buy from Sam Giacca who knows local fruit better than anyone, located 13 minutes north of Stanthorpe at Sam’s Fresh Fruit & Veg (44 Middleton Rd, Cottonvale), open 7 days.
7. Drink an Upple
Invented by local Stanthorpe apple growers, the Savio Family, The Upple is a new food innovation! It’s a ‘whole apple in a bottle’ just released on retail shelves in 2020. Made with the whole apple (skin, core and all), an Upple is healthier than apple juice and is 100% grown in Stanthorpe.
Find the Pink Lady Upple or a Granny Smith Upple in store at:
- Blue Topaz Diner, 26806 New England Hwy, Severnlea
- Sam’s Farm Fresh Fruit & Veg, 44 Middleton Road Cottonvale
- Spano’s Supa IGA Stanthorpe, Davadi St, Stanthorpe
8. Get a Photo with the Big Apple (plus an Old Apple Store)
You can’t miss it – the Big Apple sits on the New England Highway 10 minutes north of Stanthorpe at Thulimbah. It’s right in the heart of Stanthorpe’s apple growing area and across the highway from Sutton’s Juice Factory Cidery & Cafe.
Pull in to Vincenzo’s Cafe carpark (currently not operating) to get close to the landmark and strike a fun pose for the camera (many before you have struck a silly pose eating or holding up the Big Apple).
Next stretch your legs a little with a short walk across the railway line at the old Thulimbah Railway Siding and turn left onto Granite Belt Drive to see the characterful old brick Cold Store buildings along the railway line that once held local apples. This spot is loved by photographers.
9. A Grand Wine Tasting inside an Old Apple Store
Once an old apple store building, now a highly awarded winery… Heritage Estate Wines is an ideal spot to indulge in a little wine tasting. The winery building and cellar door was built as an apple store in the 1940s.
The old apple store building was converted to a cellar door in 1992 using 100+ year old bricks handmade in the brickworks close by. The supporting beam in the winery cellar door came from the Sydney Harbour Bridge and was used in the place of the many small rooms of the old apple store. There is as much reason to visit for this spot for it’s incredible history as there is for their highly esteemed 5 Star James Halliday rated wines.
10. It’s also Grape Harvest Season!
A visit during apple harvest season also coincides with the Granite Belt’s grape harvest. This is Queensland’s premier wine region, where dozens of wineries from February through to April are picking and fermenting grapes to produce first white wine varieties from February, through to reds in mid to late harvest season.
What Apples are Grown around Stanthorpe?
Apple varieties grown on the Granite Belt: Royal Gala, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Fuji, Pink Ladies, Granny Smith, Sundowners, Jazz and Jonathons.
When is Stanthorpe Apple & Grape Harvest Festival?
Held every second year. Next festival: 25 February to 6 March 2022.