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Aug 4, 2008 06:31 PM

stonefruit tasting at Andy's Orchard

I drove down to Morgan Hill with friends this weekend for an orchard tour and tasting of more than 50 varieties of heirloom and propagated peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, and pluots.

It was amazing, to say the least, to be able to compare Arctic Jay side by side with Kaleidoscope donut nectarines and then move on to Inca plums and Sierra Blanca peaches. Not surprisingly, looks can be deceiving. Some spectacular looking peaches had less impressive flavor, while some very ugly nectarines and pluots were dazzling. Incas, Kaleidoscopes, Spun Golds, Stark Sweethearts, and Flavor Grenades were among my favorites, making me wish I had the job to name new fruits.

Andy Mariani's family has owned the orchard for 50+ years, and after the tasting, we headed out in the orchards to pick fruit to take home.

This was the last tasting and tour of the summer, but the farmstand is open throughout the season, if you're nearby and want to try what's freshly picked. Mostly $2.50 per pound, versus $2 for what we picked. The tasting and tour cost $15.

I was too busy eating and scribbling to take pictures of the fresh fruit; and picking peaches is a two-handed job. But the flats of sundried fruit were gorgeous too.

Andy's Orchard
1615 Half Rd, Morgan Hill, CA 95037

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  1. Lucky you! Sounds great and I love some of the names.

    1. Windy,
      On their website it mentioned this "Well known local celebrity Chef Judy Keyes will be taping a show during the tasting and preparing delicious desserts using Andy's Orchard peaches."

      Did you have any of her desserts?

      1 Reply
      1. re: hhc

        Yes, she made a peach tart with mascarpone and crushed ginger snaps and graham cracker crumbs. It was very good, even after hours of eating fruit although quite sweet. We definitely could have used saltines and soda water.

      2. Thanks for the report! I stopped by Andy's on Tuesday afternoon. None of hte peach varieties you named were avaiable. But I'm more of a nectarine gal and focused on those. Yes, the uglier, the better it seems. My mom was particularly taken with the ginormous nectarine, can't remember the name, just that the description said it was the biggest. We've been enjoying the peaches too and the Elberta I had this morning was just perfect. It was a nice surprise that the price went DOWN this year to $2.50 vs. $2.75/lb last year. I bought almost 8 pounds of stonefruit, and there was no charge for the one Armenian cuke I wanted.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Yes, the tasting included many varieties that aren't grown in quantity, so we probably ate all they had. Their store sells ~15 kinds. There's a calendar with all the varieties listed on the website.

          My peaches are just perfect now. Sadly I've eaten the last of the Inca plums until next year.

          1. re: Windy

            We as well enjoyed the harvest walk and tasting. What phenomenal stone fruit. I felt decadent though because of the amount eaten...and left on the ground. However, I would caution families. My 12 year old daughter and her dear friend ate, essentially, a fifteen dollar nectrine and peach, each having one piece of fruit before asking to head back to the compound to read their new Stephanie Meyers book. The fifteen dollar tour is wonderful if you come with an empty stomach and a wide open fruit lovin' heart. For small kids, though, it might be best to leave at home or arrange for a parent or friend to hang with the kids while the rest take the harvest tour.

            Our guide was such a sweetie, explaining the "five bruises" theory of picking and relishing with us all the joy of vine-ripened stone fruit. Long live fruit nectar cascading from mouth and down my cheeks!