Fruit tasting at Andy's Orchard, June 18, 2017

On Sunday, I went to fruit tasting at Andy Mariani’s orchard in Morgan Hill, CA. The heat in the Bay Area is terrible these days, but the event was very well attended. In fact, I was surprised to see huge crowds (literally, hundreds of people). The entire event had a very commercial feeling to it (in contrast to fruit tastings at the ARS Wolfskill experimental station, which have a more intimate atmosphere), but I have to admit that the amount of varieties to taste at Andy’s Orchard was huge, and, taking into account the amount of customers, everything was organized very efficiently.

Some photos and few notes below.

Blenheim apricot. Good, but I think Moorpark’s flavor is richer.

Very large fruit, taste somewhat similar to Blenheim, nice, but definitely inferior to Moorpark in richness and intensity of flavor.

Golden Sweet apricot. Some say it’s similar to Blenheim, but I think it’s a step below in flavor.

Kitren White apricot. Underwhelming.

Large Early apricot. I think it was way overripe, difficult to judge.

Nicole apricot. Not very impressive, a bit low in sugar.

Painted Lady apricot. Ok, but nothing special.

White Knockout apricot. Ok, but nothing special.

Cotton Candy aprium. Underwhelming.

Rapunzel nectarine. A very nice flavor for an early nectarine (good sweet-acid balance) and a beautiful fruit.

Gold Dust peach. Nice flavor, decent size, one of the best for its season.

Manon peach. A nice white peach, pretty good for early season.

Benton cherry. Firm and good size, but not impressive taste-wise. Perhaps a bit underripe?

The standard of quality. Very good taste.

Black Eagle cherry. With all the hype about this cherry, I was disappointed. Very small fruit (even for an old variety) and not much flavor to compensate for it. Inferior to Black Tartarian in all aspects, in my opinion.

Black Republican cherry. Nothing special, taste on the bland side.

Black Tartarian cherry. Exceptional quality. Decent size for an old variety and outstanding flavor (flesh isn’t firm like Bing and most modern cherries, but this is not a drawback for me).

Garnet cherry. Medium-size fruit, sweet, very nice flavor.

Governor Wood cherry. It’s pretty good, nice sweet flavor, but I expected a bit more flavor complexity based on descriptions in the literature.

Lapins cherry. Based on my prior experience with this variety, I think the available sample was quite underripe.

Saylor cherry. Bland.

Van cherry. I expected something similar to Bing, but was disappointed. Van was watery and with way flatter taste than Bing.

Waterloo cherry. Pretty big and firm for an old variety, nice taste, but, similarly to Governor Wood, I expected a bit more based on available descriptions.

Hungarian tart cherries: Balaton, Danube and Jubileum. I enjoyed all three varieties, they all are good for eating out of hand, but I liked Danube a bit more than the other two (Jubileum is a bit tarter, while Balaton has less complex flavor). I think that some tart cherries I ate in Ukraine were better than these Hungarian varieties, but it was a long time ago, so my memory might be not perfect.

Montmorency tart cherry. Much inferior to most Morello cherries, in my opinion. Hardly suitable for fresh consumption.


Nice report

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Thank you for your great report. The accompanying pictures are very helpful, too.

Wish we had such an event in New England.


Stan, very beautiful pictures and good report. I wonder how they keep some of the varieties for the tastings. For example, Monmorency ripens way ahead of Danube. Benton cherry ripens at least two weeks later than several other cherries from your repot. Some varieties might be overripe as you noticed or they kept them in refrigeration for some time. Anyway the good fruits shine.

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You died and went to fruit-tasting heaven.

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Ahhh California…what I wouldn’t give to be able to grow apricots like that!

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Yes thanks Stan! I went to one of his fruit tastings years ago and it was crowded then … I can only imagine how the crowds have grown.

One problem with these tastings is the taste results are related to timing. Even the things that ripened fully on the tree may not be so good, they may have been in cold storage too long and had some of the flavor wash out. Still, its a heck of a lot better than reading descriptions! At the peach tasting I went to I learned about Red Baron, it was one of the very best peaches out of 50+ varieties they had, and it has proven its worth in my own orchard.


No kidding!

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Thank you for a well done and objective report…!!

My take would be he’s watering too much. That’s based on the size of the apricots and the generally flat taste. Many apricots are exceptional at 24-26 brix. All mine were there this yr except for some I didn’t thin enough. Sure some were small but I’d much rather have small and superb than big and flat tasting.

The cherries look mostly way under ripe. Lapins should be nearly black but those are barely red. Bing looks riper but still not ripe enough.

Like the others said it’s difficult to get maturity right. I really don’t think a person learns much from an event like this.

I tasted way more mediocre than excellent fruit when I lived in CA.

What did it cost to attend?


The attendance price for tasting is $15 per person. In addition to tasting admission, it allows you to buy any fruit you pick at $2.75/lb, which is lower than their on-site store price for most fruit, for example, they sell cherries for $9/lb (for comparison, the regular U-Pick prices in Brentwood orchards are $3.50/lb for cherries and $1.50 for peaches). I wanted to pick some apricots and tart cherries and started to go into the orchard, but it was so hot, I couldn’t proceed. So I went back to their on-site store and bought four pounds of Bonny Royal apricot at $2.25/lb. :slight_smile: When I got back home, I tasted Bonny Royal side to side with my Moorpark, and the latter won handily. Anyway, I believe that their Bonny Royal and Blenheim at this price are the best fruit and best price you can buy apricots anywhere in the Bay Area, besides growing them yourself.


I believe they keep some earlier fruit in cold storage, otherwise tasting all these varieties at the same time would be impossible. I didn’t make photos of all varieties they had for tasting, there were much more, especially cherries.

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i agree, red baron is quite underrated

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I went there too! Here are some photos that I took. There are thee more events left. Visit their web site and come on down, if you can make it!

Yes, that is me with a flat of cherries.


Andy’s Orchard
1615 Half Rd, Morgan Hill, CA 95037


I was there as well. My two favorites were Black Tartarian and Royal Rainier, and the Rapunzel donut Nectarine was great too. I agree that many of the cherries were under ripe (judging by the crunchiness factor), and a few were over-refrigerated, but that’s just part of the game with fruit tastings.


Thanks for your perspective Richard!

As @Stan probably knows, Balaton is a famous lake and fruit growing region in Hungary. Both the Cherry and the Cherry Brandy of that name are revered in Hungarian quarters throughout the world.

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Yes, I visited there once for a conference, it was held at a small resort town right on the lake shore.

What’s interesting is that the Hungarian name of the Balaton cherry is Újfehértói fürtös, and the city of Újfehértó is in a completely opposite part of Hungary, it’s located in the Eastern corner of the country, while the Balaton lake is on the West side.

On the other hand, the Hungarian name of the Danube cherry is Érdi bőtermő, and the city of Érd is indeed located on the bank of the Danube river (just south of Budapest).

I believe that the names Balaton and Danube for these tart cherries have been selected by the MSU for marketing purposes.


I’m going to the tasting on July 29th! Just bought my tickets