Over the last few years, Marie and I have really enjoyed visiting some of the big farms and orchards around the north Georgia mountains, but until last month, we had never stopped by what is probably the biggest of all of them. Mercier Orchards was founded in 1943, and if anybody in the region isn’t familiar with them, they’re, flatly, not paying attention. They have a presence at farmers’ markets from Atlanta to Chattanooga, a big interstate billboard campaign to promote their fall season, and a line of hard ciders that gets a lot of people talking.
Mercier is simply a huge operation, with over 100,000 trees on their property growing 26 varieties of apples. It’s every bit as big a production for apples as Lane in middle Georgia is for peaches. There’s a huge gift store selling everything from ostensibly local crafts to homemade ice cream, fritters, and fried pies, and a pretty large deli that makes sandwiches and hot dogs with Boar’s Head meats and cheeses.
The hard cider room, located in a building outside the main complex, is where older guests can sample flights of the currently-available drinks. I believe that Mercier has five different recipes, but each is only available for a short time each season, and, this time, only two were on offer: Adele’s Choice (4.75%) and Old # 3 (6.15%). These are all-natural, with no additives, and really wonderful. They’re sold for $5 a glass or $9 a bottle. A larger line of non-alcoholic ciders are also sold in the main store, along with all the requisite jams, jellies and salsas.
After we loaded the car down with bags of apples for Marie and her mother and escaped the mobs – sure, it’s nearing the end of the season, but Thanksgiving weekend is always a madhouse here – we made our way back to Ellijay. As mentioned in the previous chapter, we had a brief stop at Poole’s for a small snack, but we also stopped at yet another Sonic for Marie to enjoy yet another grape slush. Now, you might well ask whether Marie might not have done just as well to order a muscadine cider slush at Mercier, but some guilty pleasures just can’t be satisfied with anything else. Besides, I had to have a cherry slush and I didn’t see that available at the orchard.
Other blog posts about Mercier:
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