Apple-picking is without a doubt one of Québec's most popular fall activities, whether it's as a family, as a couple or with friends, and everything surrounding the activity is even more charming for the amateur pickers. Some will rent a cabin for a few days, going from orchard to orchard while enjoying a colour-filled hike. Come rain or sunshine, peeling those apples to make pies or compotes turns into its own enjoyable activity that's made even more enjoyable with a glass of cider. Fall, after all, is the season of abundance from local harvests which used to be celebrated by all.

Here is a list of orchards that are worth discovering in the Québec City area—île d'Orléans, Saint-Anne-de-Beaupré and Chaudière-Appalaches—to enjoy the area's diverse landscapes and apples varieties.

ÎLE D'ORLÉANS

Cidrerie Domaine Steinbach

Apple varieties: autumnal apples such as Spartan, Cortland or Empire; those varietals are sweeter and more resistant to bugs and certain diseases.
Specificity: organic orchard, small farm.

Domaine Steinbach was born out of the sabbatical Belgian's Claire and Philippe Steinbach decided to take. When they turned 40, they sold everything they owned to move to Île d'Orléans. Today, their fully organic agritourism site occupies 15 hectares along the banks of the Saint Lawrence River and hosts a 4,000-apple tree orchard, a duck and goose farm, cider and vinegar making installations as well as an interpretation centre that includes an open kitchen where local products are transformed. Patrons can taste their products on the patio or in nature thanks to their renowned picnic basket which they can purchase on-site. Duck rillettes, maple syrup and onion marmalade, baguette and award-winning ciders await food lovers. Various rooms are available for receptions and rustic meals in a typical Nouvelle-France ambiance.

Cidrerie Domaine Steinbach
2205, chemin Royal
Saint-Pierre-Île-d'Orléans (Qc), Canada
G0A 4E0

Cidrerie Verger Bilodeau

Apple varieties: Paulared, Early Gold, Ginger Gold, Jonamac, Lobo, McIntosh, Cortland, Redcort, Empire, Spartan, and Honey Crisp.
Specificity: île d'Orléans' first cider works, small farm.

In 1980, Micheline and Benoît Bilodeau bought land in Saint-Pierre Île d'Orléans with the goal of cultivating apples, undoubtedly Québec's favourite fruit. They had lofty goals and, after many seasons of hard work, their orchard now occupies 6 hectares hosting over 3,000 trees that produce nearly a dozen varieties of apples. Self-picking is among the various activities proposed on-site, and patrons can also enjoy their locally transformed products: cider, apple must, jellies, mustards, butter and syrup. They have won the Gold Cup at the Festival International de la Gastronomie thanks to their apple, maple syrup and ice cider mistela. And don't forget that their mini-farm is a sure-fire hit with the wee ones.

Cidrerie Verger Bilodeau
2200, chemin Royal
Saint-Pierre-Île-d'Orléans (Qc), Canada
G0A 4E0

Domaine Orléans

Apple varieties: Cortland, Empire, Ginger Gold, Honeycrisp, Jersey Mac, Jonamac, Lobo, McIntosh, Paulared, Gala, Spartan, Sunrise, Liberty, and Fortune.
Spcificities: access to a rest stop for cyclists, RVs and cars for a quick stopover, small farm.

Le Domaine Orléans is the orchard closest to the Île d'Orléans bridge. It is renowned for its free tastings of local made products such as vinegars and ciders, as well as self-picking with a view on the Saint-Lawrence and Montmorency waterfalls. A must try is their ice cider called L'Igloo, whose great taste is perfect as an apéritif as well as a digestif. On a tractor or on foot, you can appreciate the vastness of this site by taking a guided tour. Beside self-picking, the activities proposed include the small farm, picnics and hiking. Attention fishing enthusiasts: you can also pond-fish trout as well as buy it fresh!

Domaine Orléans
285, Chemin Royal
Saint-Pierre-Île-d'Orléans (Qc), Canada
G0A 4E0

SAINTE-ANNE-DE-BEAUPRÉ

Verger Sainte-Anne

Apple varieties: Paula Red, Lobo, Honeycrisp, McIntosh, Gala, Cortland, Spartan, Empire, and Liberty.
Specificities: this is also a pear orchard offering various pear products.

The domain is located 20 minutes from Québec City, halfway to Mont Saint-Anne. One more reason to plan a hike on the mountain, before or after your visit to the domain. The view over the river and île d'Orléans is magnificent. The orchard itself hosts about 900 young apple trees. There are also about thirty pear trees producing a variety known as the Flemish Beauty, a very crisp, juicy and sweet fruit that is ripe and ready to pick in early October. The main activity is a self-picking hike. Locally made products are on sale at the farm's kiosk from mid-September to late October.

Verger Sainte-Anne
315 Côte Ste-Anne, Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré
418-570-2808

CHAUDIÈRE-APPALACHES

Cidrerie & vergers Saint-Nicolas

Apple varieties: Cortland, Honeycrisp, McIntosh, Lobo, Paula Red, Gingergold, and Dolgo crab apples.
Specificity: Cidrerie St-Nicolas is the first to obtain, via the RACJ and SAQ, the ice cider denomination for their product "Cidre de glace St-Nicolas Ice cider", a trademark registered in 1998. Fruit and vegetable market and bakery on-site.

Cidrerie et vergers Saint-Nicolas is the birthplace of ice cider. Pierre Lafond and Patricia Daignault bought this abandoned land in 1977 and rehabilitated it bit by bit while Patricia was busy making jam surrounded by her children and Colley. Six years later, they became the first in the world to produce ice cider and, later, to obtain the double permit to seel it on-site and in stores. Nowadays, their award-winning products are recognized internationally. The cider works are open year-round and you will have the chance to taste five varieties of ciders as well as syrups, jellies, jams and cider vinegars made the old-fashioned way. In season, a charming kiosk hosts a fruit, vegetable and flower market, as well as farm pastries and sourdough bread made fresh daily. Everything one needs for a gourmet picnic! Guided tours are also offered where you learn more about the history of cider in Québec. Self-picking is obviously a must, too!

Cidrerie & vergers Saint-Nicolas
2068, route Marie-Victorin
Lévis, Québec, G7A 4H5
[email protected]

Verger et miellerie Saint-Patrice

Apple varieties: Lobo, Mc Intosh, Cortland, Spartan, Honey Crisp, and Alexandre.
Specificity: beekeeping (honey house on-site), small farm.

Verger Saint-Patrice, located at the heart of Chaudières-Appalaches's rural lands, has been offering self picking as well as a variety of apple-based products—including ciders and vinegars—for over 15 years. One can also stock up on maple syrup, squash and pumpkins. The more than five-hectare site offers hiking, a mini-farm and tractor rides, all in a very family-friendly environment. They have been producing honey for 30 years, so a tasting of local honey is not to be missed!

Le verger Saint-Patrice
2400 Chemin Saint-Patrice
St-Henri, Québec
G0R 3E0
418-882-2812
[email protected]

To find out what the ideal time to pick each apple variety, we recommend calling the orchards directly. For example, at Verger Sainte-Patrice, the Lobo and McIntosh are ready around Sept. 23, while the Cortland, Spartan and Honey Crisp only are from Sept. 30. Those dates will change from year to year depending on Mother Nature's moods.

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