Andy’s Orchard Fruit Tasting in Morgan Hill

Andy's Orchard in Morgan Hill signLast Father’s Day, mid June 2017, we trekked to South County to do some fruit picking and fruit tasting at Andy’s Orchard in Morgan Hill. I highly recommend it, though the website for Andy’s Orchard says that their cherry harvest has been smaller than usual this year. They are again offering this event on Father’s Day 2018, but do check their website (see link below) to make sure that the tour you want is not sold out.

We walked through the orchard during the earliest available time slot since it was a heat wave weekend. The orchard had all kinds of varieties of cherries (I remember one with a funny name, the Black Republicans), but also pluats, nectarines, and a wide number of stone fruits, too. We were encouraged to taste as we went, and had no trouble complying. Many of us had buckets that we filled (and paid for the fruit later). It was so interesting to try one type of cherry after the next and to learn about how the trees are cared for.

Next was the open air tasting station, where we were able to enjoy and compare a huge number of apricots, peaches, nectarines, pluats, apriums, cherries, etc.  Had we known when we walk the orchard how much more food would be there for us, we might all have had a little more restraint. By the time we got to the tasting stations, I was already pretty full and well past the amount of fruit I should have had for that period of time.


Andy's Orchard Morgan Hill old style fruit banner


Take a look at some of the photos to give you a sense of the vast offerings! What it does not well convey is how delicious the fruit was!


Picking fruit at Andy's Orchard on Father's Day 2018


We picked a variety of cherries, many types of which we’d never heard of before.

After that, we headed to a covered area (the shade was much appreciated as it was a toasty day) to check out the fruit tasting stations. Included were plums, pluats, apricots, nectarines, cherries, and all sorts of hybrids that were new to me.


fruit tasting stations with cherries apricots plums and more


Closeup of one of the fruits offered for tasting. In most cases, the fruit was presented in whole AND pre-sliced for easy munching.


Pegasus Nectarine


And here’s a shot of the whole fruit and the samples.


Flavorosa Pluat


Can’t wait to take visiting relatives back there!


Beauty Plum


You can learn more about Andy’s Orchard and check out their event schedule at their website:





Valley of Heart’s Delight

Fruit tree in bloomThe Valley of Heart’s Delight (or Valley of Hearts Delight) is the old moniker or nickname for the Santa Clara Valley, which loosely follows the boundaries of Santa Clara County, the largest city of which is San Jose with one million residents today.  This area, together with much of San Mateo County to the north, is better known in recent times as Silicon Valley.  Agriculture gave way to high tech, bio tech, and a whole lot of people and homes.

When the first non-native people came to this area, the native people, the Ohlone, were hunter-gatherers who lived in temporary homes which could be moved with the seasons and weather changes.  The newcomers wanted to “settle” the land, plant crops, raise cattle and sheep, and pretty much transport everything from the “old world” to the new, including, of course, religion.  The California Missions and the Presedios for military sprang up throughout Alta California, to the detriment of the Ohlone people here and tribes elsewhere, in many cases.  That said, there were also some good things that happened, so I do not want to paint this whole period as 100% bad.

Eventually logging (Saratoga was a logging town) and wheat became a hugely important crop as it was necessary to feed those immigrating here for gold and a new life.  The redwood trees in the Santa Cruz Mountains were often felled for construction in San Francisco, with the logs or wood making their way north via boats docked at Alviso.  Mercury, or quicksilver, was discovered south of San Jose and the New Almaden Mine (and Guadalupe Mine) extracted it for use in munitions for the Civil War and to get gold out of the rock into which it was embedded.

When the transcontinental railroad broke through in 1869, however, it was easy and relatively cheap to bring wheat from the Midwest.  Meanwhile, fruit, nut trees, vineyards and and vegetables were thriving here: prunes, grapes, citrus of all kinds, cherries, apricots, walnuts, almonds and many more filled the Santa Clara Valley.  Prohibition (1919 1933) was hard for the grape farmers and vintners, and many of the wineries ended in ruin.  Some continued as they could make sacramental wine, and some smaller ones made it through, too, for either table grapes or for “personal use” wine only.

The valley was so beautiful that there were tour companies which would organized drives or rides to view the blossoms, hopefully at their peak. The Blossom Time Tour Company had it finely tuned to viewing the trees at the height of their blooming, which varied by crop. One tour began in Cupertino, ran through part of Saratoga and Monte Sereno, into Los Gatos over “Blossom Hill” (the tip of which is crossed on Blossom Hill Road close to Union Avenue), down Union Avenue through Cambrian Park, through part of Campbell and back into Cupertino where it had begun.

After World War II, the region saw a huge expansion and many orchards were leveled to create subdivisions in Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, San Jose, Los Gatos, Milpitas, Campbell, Saratoga and throughout the area.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t done well in most cases and we have “urban sprawl” with many tract homes and not enough parks in some areas.  With younger neighborhoods, like you find in Almaden and Milpitas, the park situation is a little better, and of course there are beautiful old parks dotting the valley – just not enough in some areas.

Today you will continue to find orchards, though smaller, generally.  Saratoga has its Heritage Orchard at the corner of Fruitvale and Saratoga Avenue.  Some newer neighborhoods, like Heritage Grove, include some fruit trees as part of the community.  More commonly, though, you’ll find that most houses seem to have at least one fruit tree – often a lemon – if not many.  Grapes are popular again, too.  Local fruit can be found in great abundance in the “south county”, too – a quick trip to Morgan Hill and Gilroy, especially, will give you a taste of the local past.

To read more:

The Valley of Heart’s Delight Video Providing a Peek into the Agricultural Past of Silicon Valley

The Valley of Heart’s Delight, Silicon Valley’s Old Nickname

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