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Jun 10, 2011 04:54 PM

Cherries in Morgan Hill: Andy's Orchard and Mariani Orchards Roadside Cherry Stand

Monday I stopped by Andy's Orchard to see how the cherry crop's doing. Very well, thank you. Black Tartarians, the end of Brooks, Rainiers, and Bings were all in peak form. The Bings were especially good, firm and complex in flavor. A two-pound sampler box, half Rainiers and half Bings was $11.

On the same road, Mariani Orchards Roadside Cherry Stand is open. Selling only cherries, it operates for about six weeks during the season. Mitch Mariani, son of the owner and nephew of Andy, tending the store.

Bings at Mariani were big but not quite at peak of flavor, at least not the sample I had, priced at $3.50/lb. Mitch predicted that they'll be better by this weekend. Black Tartarians were also available, and they'd picked the last box of Brooks cherries.

The Brooks cherries I bought from Mariani included some bruised and scarred fruit. The mixed box from Andy's Orchard were all perfect and stayed in good shape for four days in the refrigerator till the very last one was consumed.

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

Mariani Orchards Roadside Cherry Stand
1515 Half Rd, Morgan Hill, CA 95037

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  1. Morgan Hill must be just far south enough to have escaped the rain of the last two weekends. I was at C.J. Olson yesterday and the cherries they have were lovely, but Deborah Olson, who was giving a tour of the orchard, said a lot of the crop had cracked in the rain and wouldn't be saleable.

    C J Olson Cherries
    348 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

    2 Replies
    1. re: Nina

      I would guess that Morgan Hill got hit as badly by rain and cold as anywhere else in the area. I talked to the Apricot King folks from Hollister at the Mountain View Farmer's Market today, and they won't have any Blenheims until July 15 at the earliest. Things are way behind there as well.

      I got some cherries from Olson today and was amazed at how good they were given the ugly weather. In some years a rainy spring has led to more watery, diluted tasting fruit, but not this time. The key is selection, I guess.


      1. re: Nina

        I'm sure Morgan Hill suffered through those record-breaking downpours, since my mother who lives further south reported rain. Here's a photo of the Mariani Orchards cherry trees that are adjacent to the stand . . . they said these aren't ready to harvest yet, so there will be more crop coming.

        If it's any closer to you, I bought C J Olson cherries labeled "Sunnyvale" at Webb Ranch today.

        Webb Ranch
        2720 Alpine Rd, Menlo Park, CA

      2. +1 for Andy's Orchard, I go there every year for cherries, they are hands down the best in the area if you can make the trip.

        Local farmer's market has Coral Champagne's from up in Brentwood...the rains completely ruined his crop. Last week he didn't even have enough product to make the trip, this week a lot of the cherries were split and bruised, though there was plenty of good fruit in there. He said he should have cherries for the next two weeks as well.

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

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bunson

          This was my first time buying cherries at Andy's. I tend to forget about it until I want some apricots, glad I remembered earlier in the season!

          I also like the cherries from Christopher Ranch in Gilroy a lot. Also carefully selected, big and juicy.

        2. I just this minute finished off my dessert of cherries from Andy's. Yes, the Bings are terrific this year, and I buy and eat all I can afford for the brief window of time they're available. I love that I live so close so that I can indulge in this luxury - I live about a mile or so away.

          A little later, perhaps we'll see "Bentons", a variety comparable to Brooks, and also "Lapins", another topnotch variety.

          1 Reply
          1. re: teela brown

            Andy is the best at what he does and really knows his fruit!

          2. So bummed I missed out on the Brooks at Andy's. I picked up some Black Tartarians, Bings and Raineers. The Rainiers were perfection as were the Tartarians.

            Happily picked up some peaches as well. Apricots will soon be in full swing.

            1. Stopped at Andy's Orchard this afternoon. The two-pound boxes of half Bings and half Rainiers are $14.

              Black Tartarians and Brooks cherries are also available, $8/lb.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Best cherries in town! I stopped by last Saturday after fishing at Anderson - they had Brooks and Rainers for $8/basket and the Black Tartarians were only $5/basket...I'll be stopping by again this Saturday for another 8 pounds of cherries!

                1. re: Bunson

                  Eating the last ones tonight, I'm impressed at how well they held up for 3 days considering that they're fully ripe. Much like with the peaches and nectarines to come, Andy's picks ripe yet the fruit can hold for a few days.

                  1. re: Bunson

                    What does a Black Tartarian taste like, aside from having a great name?

                    1. re: Windy

                      Black tartarians are the juiciest and sweetest cherries! Very low acid and a really rich jam-like cherry flavor. The main issue with them is a texture thing. They're super soft like a spoiled bing, not firm and crisp. Andy's lets you sample so you can always stop by and try one.

                      1. re: Bunson

                        Well, you can sample if you happen to be near Morgan Hill. Though based on your description, they're worth the drive. Thanks for the encouragement.

                      2. re: Windy

                        You can also get Andy's Black Tartarians at Olson's in Sunnyvale. At least they had them last week; don't know about now. I love them; they're the closest I have found to Michigan sweet black cherries (Schmidts?) out here.


                    2. re: Melanie Wong

                      Forgot to mention that Andy's had sour cherries last week. But Chez Pim bought them all. No more.