As one of our Mass mamas pointed out, autumn is knocking on our door. And to me that means apple picking season.
My poor, beleaguered husband, he had no idea what he was getting himself into when he met me. I live for apple picking season. I want my own bag and my own apple picking pole (although, after about fifteen minutes I'm usually done, spending more time eating the apples than picking them). I want to bring home many, many pumpkins to go with the obscene amount of mums I decorate my front steps with. I want it all.
Now I have a child who I've been introducing the wonders of fall to, and I have to admit it can be a bit trying. She has a limited attention span for the actual picking, but we still want to experience this bit of New England charm as a family, so our choices are:
Find a "family friendly" orchard with a snack shack and some playground equipment (not that there's anything wrong with them, but, personally, those types of places freak me out), wait for parking in a long line of cars all going to the same place, walk a gajillion miles from the parking lot to entrance of the place, hop on the back of a truck and get driven out to orchards that are too far for any self respecting toddler to walk to, all to spend five minutes picking apples and the rest of the time running after said toddler, trying to stop her from putting the worm-eaten apples off the ground in her mouth. Then giving up and buying a bag of employee-picked apples from the orchard shop, grabbing a jug of cider and some pumpkins and getting the hell out of Dodge.
We could drive to Bolton, Massachusetts to Nashoba Valley Winery and Orchard with a pre-made picnic lunch, park our car with relative ease, pre-pay for our bag of apples, grab our picking poles and walk to the orchard to pick our own fruit... Where the toddler will, in fact, try to eat worm-eaten apples off the ground, but location isn't going to change that.
Then, oh my dear lord, then we can run inside to the winery and pick a bottle from the large selection of Nashoba's locally made wine (they make pretty good beer and spirits, too), where they'll uncork it for you - if you're not like me and don't carry a corkscrew in your purse for this very occasion - maybe make our way over to the refrigerated case for some Mass. made cheese and then head outside to enjoy the spoils of our labor on Nashoba's expansive lawn.
Sounds heavenly doesn't it? Let me tell you, it is.
I almost don't want to share this gem with you because, admittedly, at the height of the season it gets very crowded (sorry, there will be crowds). But my husband and I love it and Nashoba is extremely family friendly - you can even bring your leashed dogs! Just remember to pick up after the pooches, because you don't want to ruin it for everyone else.
We bring a blanket and a soccer ball to kick around with our daughter and then we usually eat a very leisurely lunch and sip our wine - which is much better than you think it would be, for wine made in Massachusetts. We're not exactly the wine capital of the world, you know? And then, if the weather is really nice, we'll play some more ball or just chill on our blanket sharing the cheese and crackers and eating apples for the rest of the afternoon.
The view from their lawn is of the valley below and in fall that means blazes of red, orange and yellow. Very complimentary to the church steeples in the distance. And you don't have to just go in the fall. We go almost all year. We've been there to pick peaches (they're picking right now as a matter of fact) at the end of summer and we were there in the spring for my mother's day lunch. We haven't been in the winter yet, for the Christmas tree lighting. Maybe this year.
And I haven't even gotten into their gourmet restaurant, J's. Love the Sunday brunch but that is not toddler friendly.
I cannot say enough about this place so I'll just shut up now and let you decide for yourself. But if you go to Nashoba Valley Winery, let me know. I'll meet you there with my corkscrew!