Shining the Spotlight on Mercier Orchards



Farmers in the state of Georgia produce more than 26 million pounds of apples annually with nearly all the orchards concentrated in the North Georgia Mountains. Distinguishing oneself from the other apple orchards might be a large task for some. But Adele Mercier was never easily daunted by the business challenges of competition presented to her and her husband Bill and their 27-acre family orchard they started together in 1943. She had big plans for this little orchard in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Little did she know that it would take her to the dawn of the next century to execute her plan.

In 1999, Adele presented her vision for the Mercier Orchards to the regional tourism association. She shared with them her dream that Mercier’s was going to become an international tourist attraction, right along with her friends from the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway who had just started running scenic excursions to McCaysville and back. That afternoon, the tourism professionals chuckled at the naiveté of this eighty-year-old with such outlandish pipe dreams. Over the past two decades since, many of those in attendance that day have eaten their fair share of humble pie (or maybe apple fried pies?).

Mercier Orchards has grown ten times its original size, with 300 acres of apples, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, and blackberries. The farm market that once boasted just bins of apples from July till December is now open seven days a week from 7 am till 6 pm, 361 days a year.  The Market Store has enlarged to several thousand square feet with outstanding food products, fresh, frozen and canned, with the majority locally sourced. If you are planning on preparing meals during your cabin stay with us, you must visit Merciers. Don’t bother with a shopping list. Every item will take you on a new culinary journey.

The Market has also grown to include a bakery boasting several varieties of fried pies, as well as apple cider donuts, and a large variety of bread, cookies and many other delectable baked goods.  The bakery also supplies the recently enlarged Market Café (open 7am-6pm daily) with award-winning biscuits, bread and rolls served at breakfast each day till 11 am. Breakfast buffet on Saturdays and Sundays is a great place to gather with family and friends, with buffet hours extended to noon.  After a morning in the orchards, picking your own fruit, lunch at the Market is the best place to hydrate, chill and nourish.

Yes, part of Adele’s dream was to bring multi-generational families in to enjoy the seasonal harvests of the orchards. Adults of all ages will enjoy the memories of their childhood days while picking apples, and the children will enjoy every moment, from the wagon ride out to the u-pick them area to delighting as they fill their buckets with berries, peaches or over 30 varieties of apples. U-Pick is subject to availability and the weather. For current picking dates, click here.

Maybe choosing your fruit at the Market is more to your liking than picking your own in the field. That doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the Orchard experience. From 10 am till 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays, indulge yourself with a $5 tractor ride and tour of the 300-acre orchard. The Mercier family loves to share all there is to see and know about their orchard with their guests.

The fruits of the orchard are best enjoyed fresh, but for some, pressed and fermented fruit has as much allure. Mercier’s knows this first hand and would like to invite you to their Tasting Room at the Market. A variety of delicious hard ciders and wines, made with all “Georgia Grown” fruits can be sampled and purchased. “We are currently the only apple orchard in Georgia that can say they grow, press, ferment, and bottle their own product.” avowals their website.

As for Adele’s vision? Late last November, this writer visited the orchard with a friend to purchase a couple of bags of apples. It was late on a Sunday afternoon, three weeks past the high volume tourist season and we expected to be able to run in and out with our fruit purchase. We found the enormous parking lot to be nearly full. Walking into the Market, we discovered every cash register manned and customers were five plus deep waiting in those lines. My friend and I counted six different languages being spoken around us while we patiently waited our turn to pay for our purchases.

Adele Mercier passed away in 2013, leaving her internationally known Market in the very capable hands of second, third and fourth generations of the Mercier Family. They strive to bring to every visitor an experience that they will soon not forget. To learn more about Mercier Orchards and to see their event calendar, visit them at www.mercier-orchards.com.

The ABC’s of Horseback Riding



There is nothing more enjoyable than unplugging form the digital world, saddling up on horseback, and heading out into the countryside. In Blue Ridge, forty percent of the county’s land is located within the Chattahoochee National Forest and has countless miles of trails to explore and enjoy. Fresh mountain air, beautiful scenery, abundant wildlife, and getting in touch with nature is what it’s all about. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced equestrian, one of the area’s local outfitters would love to show you our country side and provide you with a rewarding, memorable, and exhilarating trip.

Appalachian Trail Rides

A love of family and horses led to the creation of S&T Stables and then in 2017 they designed and created Appalachian Trail Rides at S&T Stables. Proudly providing trail rides on 250 acres of privately-owned mountainous farm land, visitors can ride through pastures on scenic trails and gallop around private lakes and cross creeks while seeing wildlife frolic in their natural habitat. The youngest family members can enjoy pony rides and anyone 6 years and older can enjoy trail rides. Luke and Blair of Appalachian Trail rides have created a Proposal Ride for blossoming love or Dinner Rides complete with a delicious meal and songs around the campfire!

Cabin Suggestion

Almost Heaven is a spectacular cabin set high up on a mountain crest. This three-bedroom three bath cabin is snug in the treetops of an enchanting forest that makes for natural framework around layered panoramic mountain views. Whether you wish to lock yourself away for a romantic or sentimental gathering or create a wonderful family vacation filled with adventure — Almost Heaven will have you on Cloud Nine.

Blanche Manor

Year-round horseback riding adventures are available at Blanche Manor in Blue Ridge for all age levels and skill levels. Trail rides will take you through unspoiled scenery and take in views from three states – Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. You can choose from a leisurely stroll through wooded trails or sign up for the City Slicker Special where you can learn how to barrel race or do an obstacle course on horseback! Complete with Sunset rides, pony rides, and full day experiences you will enjoy every minute of your time with Kimberly and her team of experienced guides.

Cabin Suggestion

Taking its name from the hundreds of acres of picturesque horse farms in the surrounding area, Bucking Horse is a distinctive Georgia Mountain cabin rental that offers the peaceful getaway from your everyday life that you are craving. Perfectly situated in the Cashes Valley Area, this four-bedroom, 4-bath cabin invites you to enjoy the sounds and sights of nature from the spacious, multi-level decks and balconies. Take in the majestic mountain views as you rock your cares away on the back deck or sink into the steamy and rejuvenating waters of the hot tub. Let the scenic woods and calming mountain views from Bucking Horse envelop you as you create a truly memorable mountain experience that will last a lifetime- and having you longing to return!

Cohutta Stables

Spend a half day or a full day riding trails through the Cohutta Wildlife Management area. This family owned and operated horse farm is widely known for training, boarding, sales, riding lessons, and outfitted trail riding in the Chattahoochee National Forest. They believe in the importance of finding a horse to suit your needs and skill level. Heather and her team will take guests on a thirteen-mile trip through stunning landscape. The ride takes a break at Jacks River Fields, a primitive campground, for a picnic lunch and a leg stretch, before picking up the trail and returning back to the stables.

Cabin suggestion

If you love the peace from quiet mountain vistas and beautiful sunsets, then let Cashes Serenity wash over you. Located in the desirable Cashes Valley area of Blue Ridge, this three-bedroom, three bath home offers spectacular views of the Cohutta wilderness, a 37,000-acre protected wildlife sanctuary with more than 95 miles of hiking trails. Enjoy the beauty of the meandering streams and grazing horses in Cashes Valley as you wind your way up the mountain to breathtaking views. Horseback riding trails are within walking distance down the mountain and white water rafting on the Ocoee River is nearby. When you visit Cashes Serenity cabin, we hope you will echo the words of John Muir: “Keep close to Nature’s heart and break clear away, once in a while, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.”