The drive from Seattle into the Lake Chelan area of Washington was absolutely breath taking. This Southern girl is not used to seeing beautiful mountains, deep valleys, and crisp white snow in June!
Our first stop was to an adorable Bavarian town called Leavenworth. The town reminded me a lot of Helen, Georgia…but was a lot bigger and a lot nicer. If you ever get a chance, this place must be on your Washington must-see list! I loved it!
For lunch we gorged ourselves at Cafe Mozart. One of the appetizers we tried was a Fried International Cheese Sampler. It had a lightly fried brie, mozzarella and smoked gouda, and was served with an amazing lingonberry-cranberry sauce. It’s no big surprise with my love of cheese, but this was probably my favorite thing we ate there!
Above you can see Amanda digging in to her super cheesy Caprese sandwich. And while not pictured, I had the Kaesespaetzle — which is a lot like mac and cheese, but with a German twist.
After lunch we had a little time to explore Leavenworth. When you let a bunch of food bloggers loose in a town like this, what do you think happens? We find the chocolate store of course! Above you can see Sandy, Jenny, Shaina and Amanda taste testing all of the handmade chocolates at Schocolat.
After leaving Leavenworth, we arrived at the picturesque Lake Chelan. I couldn’t believe how blue the water was…and I mean, come on, it’s surrounded by mountains! How awesome is that?? I hope to one day get a chance to take my family to the Lake Chelan area.
Tree Top put us up at Campbell’s Resort on Lake Chelan. It’s a family owned resort and is situated on the north side of the 50 mile lake. The views above were from inside my room!
Before heading off to see Tree Top’s Apple Orchards, I got the chance to go lounge by the lake and soak up some sunshine. This Florida girl is so used to sweating while trying to lay out, but Washington’s 80°F was such a welcome surprise.
When we arrived to the apple orchards, I was shocked at the views these apple trees had. I mean seriously? I see my neighbor’s house and asphalt…these apple trees get this view. Where’s the justice in that?? …I’m seriously considering setting up a tent in the center of the orchard. I’m sure the FDA would be cool with that.
One of the coolest things I learned while on this trip, was the hand thinning process that the apple trees go through. In April, when all the trees bloom, each of the blooms have to be thinned by hand. Each blossom will have groups of blooms with one large bloom in the center — the king bloom. The smaller blooms must be picked off so only the King Bloom grows. Otherwise, the smaller blooms will produce smaller apples that will crowd the bigger apple.
The apples had already started to grow when we were there in early June, but they won’t actually be ready to pick until September.
Tree Top has a whopping 1100 growers and 8,000 acres of apple orchards. Each year they also process 9,000 tons of cherries, 45,000 bins of pears and 325,000 bins of apples….and one bin of apples weighs about 900 pounds. How insane is that? But when you think about how many apples it takes to make one bottle of Tree Top apple juice (20 apples!), it doesn’t seem like that crazy!
In 1952, 5K carloads of apples went into the Colombian River each year because they were not pretty enough to be sold in stores. This caused a lot of issues for the environment, but was also an obvious huge waste of produce.
In 1960 a group of apple growers got together and purchased Tree Top from Bill Charbonneau — the man who created the first clear apple juice. They started making everything from apple juice, to apple sauce…and now even fresh pre-cut apple slices. Tree Top is now run by Tom Stokes (pictured above, in the blue shirt) and he shared the story of Tree Top with all of us.
After our tour of the apple orchard, we headed over to Benson Vineyard for a delicious farm to table dinner.
Above is the one and only group shot of the bloggers who attended: Kim Sunee – Epicurean Mom (Katie) – Mommie Cooks (Julie) – The Kitchen Magpie (Karlynn) – Mom Start (Louise) – Picky Palate (Jenny) – The Healthy Apple (Amie) – Kevin and Amanda (Amanda) – Food for my Family (Shaina) – Reluctant Entertainer (Sandy)
The Benson Vineyard was absolutely stunning. This photo was captured while standing on their gorgeous back patio. Their vineyard is open for weddings or special events…and if Jorge and I ever renew our vows, I know where we are going.
We were served a delectable 4 course dinner by Chef Pam Ahl. We had amazingly fresh salmon, tender organic veggies, and a delectable chocolate cake!
We were lucky enough to be able to watch the sunset over the vineyard through dinner. It was absolutely breath taking.
I want to say a giant thank you to Tree Top — with a special thanks to Sharon, Jessica, and Jordan! — for such an amazing trip. I would never have gotten the chance to see the beauty of Washington State without the amazing trip y’all planned!
**this trip was paid for by Tree Top, however all opinions are 100% my own.**