A couple of weekends ago, I joined close family friends of ours and their three boys for a fun-filled day of apple picking, hard cider and wine tasting, freshly baked apple donuts and kids’ activities at Jonamac Orchard in Malta, IL, a new fall tradition in the making.
Jonamac Orchard is 90 minutes west of Chicago and fairly easy to get to. The orchard has been in business for 32 years with over 105 acres of land and over 10,000 apple trees consisting of more than two dozen varieties to choose from. There are a variety of kids’ activities including the Barn Yard Play Area with a jumping pillow, petting zoo and an Apple Train, as well as a corn maze, campfire and a 12 acre pumpkin patch. If walking through a 12 acre pumpkin patch doesn’t entice you, the Pumpkin Corrall by the Kettle Corn Building near the play area already has hand-picked pumpkins ready for purchase to take home. While my friend Dave and the boys spent some time in the play area, my girlfriend Gwen and I decided to partake in the $5 a person tasting of different blends of apple wine in the Cider House, giving us a head start over Dave until he was able to join us. Our samples of choice included the Orchard Blend (the bottle Dave and Gwen purchased to take home), Orchard Reserve, Autumn Harvest (served warm), Pomme Nouveau and Pumpkin flavored (our least favorite).We then headed over to Jonamac’s 20 acre apple orchard where we were able to hand-pick our own apples for $13 a bag, filling each of our bags with a variety of Fuji and large, bright red, tasty Pazzaz apples, a first year harvest at the Orchard. This was our first time trying Pazzaz apples and they were absolutely delicious, a crispy and juicy alternative to Honeycrisp.
We concluded our day in the kids’ play area where the boys ran around in the haystack, bounced on the jumping pillow, petted goats and slid down the slide, which of course, this big kid right here had to partake in as well. On our way out, Dave and I stopped in the bakery to purchase a homemade apple pie and some fudge, barely making our way through the long line of people waiting to get their hands on those warm, freshly baked, cinnamon coated apple donuts that we got our fix of when we first arrived, a definite must when visiting Jonamac Orchard. Until next year…Shop my look: