Update: Copeland's will be open for picking starting May 30, 2014. Hours are 8 am - 5 pm daily. Don't miss our on their delicious Utah Giants and wild flower honey.
Last weekend (June 13-14, 2009) was the first weekend of cherry picking season for many of the orchards in Leona Valley, California. It has been 10 years since my last cherry picking adventure, and I knew it was time to go back. It was difficult to decide which orchard to go to, so we decided to head to Leona Valley and drive around until we find an orchard we liked. After what seemed like an eternity on Elizabeth Lake Road, we finally saw the first cherry orchard on the right. Villa del Sol was packed by 9:30 a.m. with cars parked every where. We decided to keep driving and follow some of the cherry picking signs along the side of the road.
On our drive, we saw a sign for honey and decided to stop. There is nothing like fresh honey and Copeland's was selling wild flower honey collected from wild flowers within a 2 mile radius of the orchard. The bees are kept on the orchard in nicely decorated blue boxes and we purchased a 2 pound jar for $16. 1 pound jars were also available for $8.
After we sampled and purchased our honey, we noticed a huge container on the side of the table filled with Bings and Utah Giants. Since I have never heard of nor have I tasted Utah giants, I grabbed the biggest one I could find and took a bite. The cherry was absolutely incredible. It was fresh, sweet, just the right amount of crunch and a wonderful after taste. Bing cherries have always been my favorite, but after a taste of the Utah Giant, I had found a new favorite.
Copeland's is almost 2 acres with about 500 cherry trees planted over 9 years ago by David and Shari who own the orchard. The cherries produced on this orchard are certified organic and they have at least three varieties: Bing, Rainier, and Utah Giant.
The orchard did not look like they were open for cherry picking, so I asked the owners and they explained that because of the freeze, they lost 90% of their crop this year and are only selling pre-picked cherries. $10 will buy you a two pound box of pre-picked cherries of your choice, and I think the Utah Giants are the best buy.
The owners were nice enough to let us on the farm and point out the Utah Giant trees so we could pick some cherries. The cherries in the picture below are Utah Giants and they really are giant. Many were doubled the size of Bing cherries.
Although Copeland's is not open for cherry picking this season, the Utah Giants are well worth the visit. We bought 4 pounds of Utah Giants and they barely lasted 48 hours. If you are headed to Leona Valley this season, make sure you stop by this wonderful orchard and sample their wild flower honey and Utah Giants.
Copeland's Cherry Ranch
9611 Leona Ave
Leona Valley, CA 93551
Plenty of parking along the side of the road.