About this time of year, we begin making regular “peach runs” to Carter Mountain Orchard, just up the hill from the Inn at Monticello.
The Orchard is part of a 1729 land grant to John Carter that consisted of more than 9,000 acres. In 1742, Carter died, and his son Edward inherited the property. In 1771, in exchange for legal services provided to Edward Carter, neighbor Thomas Jefferson received “as much of his (Carter’s ) mountain as can be seen from mine (Monticello), and 100 yards beyond the lines of sight . . .” In 1985, the Chiles Family purchased some of the remaining Carter land, including what is now the Orchard, and began planting fruit trees. The Family continues harvesting superb apples, peaches, grapes and other fruit from the property.
From June into August, Carter Mountain Orchard produces several varieties of yellow and white peaches. Visitors to the Orchard can pick their own or buy fruit already in a basket. We especially love the cling and freestone yellow peaches that arrive early in the season. They’re great peeled, sliced and served with fresh yogurt and blueberries. The white peaches arrive later in the summer, and they are also delicious.
Carter Mountain Orchard grows wine grapes and sells vintages made by Prince Michel Vineyards, as well as Bold Rock Cider. On Thursday evenings, it provides local, live, free entertainment. Hundreds of people show up, bring picnic dinners, drink wine and cider, enjoy the music, take in the magnificent views, and stay until the sun goes down. It’s a great way to spend a summer evening.