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Local talent sets the mood in the Apple House.
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Mercier Orchards has their own brand of hard cider.
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Two tractors and trailers run from April through November, carrying visitors through the orchards for UPick adventures.
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Twelve counters dish out baked goods; they realize that's still not enough.
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It's all in the family as Joe Foster runs the retail operations.
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The sample station provides nibbles of Mercier products including fresh apple cider.
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Mercier Orchards grew from 27 acres to 350 acres.
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On her 95th birthday, matriarch Adele Mercier with her son Tim who currently oversees the business.
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Over 35 varieties of trees are planted, including Honey Crisp, a summer favorite.
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The tractor driver takes a break. His favorite snack? Apples, of course.
Plant trees, and they will come.
That's probably not the exact advice that Bill Mercier originally imparted to his son Tim or to his granddaughter's husband Joe Foster years ago, but since 1943, the Mercier family has been planting apple trees on their Blue Ridge slice of heaven. Sure as shootin', the people came, and they continue to come. So much so, that the little apple house beside the road where locals purchased local fruits and vegetables has turned into a multi-million dollar enterprise perched atop some 350 acres.
Mercier Orchards located in Blue Ridge, Georgia, can't contain their excitement or their business. Currently renovating and expanding, the Mercier family is bursting at the seams as Joe Foster - Son-in-Law #2, he likes to call himself - takes the lead in retail operations. "We are very reactive," says Foster. "We react to what customers want."
And what customers want are local, quality products. At the Apple House, visitors and locals find a variety of local artisan goods, from pottery to bird seed. Mercier has their own wines as well as a hard cider whose sales are through the roof. There are restaurants and eateries, UPick and UFish, peaches and blackberries, tractors and trailers.
But the absolute, most important item at Mercier Orchards is their signature fried pies. Blackberry, peach, apple, sweet potato, blueberry, cream cheese, and chocolate. The options are endless. Favorites this season? The star is the apple - no great surprise - followed closely by peach and sweet potato. On a daily basis during the fall season, an average of 12,000 plus pies are sold. They are that good.
As you travel through the North Georgia mountains and the Blue Ridge area, make a pit stop at Mercier Orchard. Click here for a look at our visit, and it'll have you hungry for more. More pies, that is. Good news is that you can order online and you'll have them within two days, but why would you want to. There's nothing like stepping into the Apple House, inhaling that apple sweetness and enjoying the fruits of the Mercier family labors.
Judy and Len Garrison are at home in Farmington, Georgia, just on the outskirts of Dawg country - better known as Athens. Len, an IT manager for a major Atlanta company, and Judy, an editor, author and travel writer, invite you to travel along with them as they explore the best of the South. Email them at email@example.com. Visit their website at Seeing Southern, and follow them on Twitter at @judyhgarrison , @seeing_southern and LIKE them on Facebook.