“I would hate to have to confiscate your apples,” the Canadian border guard said with a smile as I re-entered the country. I was returning from a trip to Lynden, Washington where I spent three days bike riding, whale watching, appreciating art, and learning about local history. One of the highlights of my little getaway on the other side of the 49th parallel was BelleWood Acres apple farm. While I did not pick any apples, or attempt to bring any back across the border – since you can’t do that – I did sip cider, sample spirits, roll through the orchard in a golf cart, play among sunflowers and corn stalks, and eat one of the best turkey sandwiches around.
BelleWood Acres Apple Farm in Lynden
- Location: #6140 WA-539 (Guide Meridian Rd) less than 20 minutes directly south of the Aldergrove border crossing.
- Hours: Daily 8:00am to 5:00pm
Bellewood Acres is one of Northwest Washington’s largest apple orchards. You can pick your own apples and your own pumpkins from their pumpkin patch, and their farm market features fresh, locally grown produce. They have around 20 varieties of apples grown on site, from Honeycrisp, Gala, and Mountain Rose to Sunrise and their own BelleWood Prince.
Heading south of Guide Meridian, or north if you’re coming from Bellingham, you can’t miss the big red barn. The 14,000 square foot building hosts an expanded farm market, gift shop, Country Cafe and bakery, and the distillery tasting room.
They also have thousands of raspberry and blueberry bushes that get baked into their legendary pies, used in their spirits, and more. I met up with owner Dorie Belisle, who runs the entire operation alongside her husband and dedicated staff. We started our tour in the distillery, which was added on in 2012.
“We use all of our own apples,” Dorie said while we stood next to the copper equipment in a warehouse room which also doubles as event space. “There are 30lbs of apples in every fifth!” Adding the distillery to the business gave BelleWood a year-round product, and added a whole other level to their visitors’ experience. “Our dream has always been to have a community farm. We want people to come to the farm as much as they can.”
In the tasting room you can sample vodka, gin, eau de vie, bourbon barrel-aged brandy, and of course cider. In the cafe you can tip a little raspberry vodka in your lemonade or spike your hot chocolate with it on a cooler fall day.
Spirits made from apples have a smoother and crisper flavour, as opposed to grains. They also make what they call a Bruce (brandy and juice), which is a traditionally known as Pommeau in France, and a Pumpkin Spice Liqueur, also good in hot chocolate, infused in cake, on top of ice cream, on on its own.
After sampling, Dorie was the designated golf cart driver and we headed out into the orchard. BelleWood is a certified Salmon Safe Farm, meaning they grow in a way that does not harm ground or surface water. There is signage on site that you can discover if you head out on a farm walk.
Rows upon rows of apples blanket the landscape, with the ever snow-capped Mount Baker in the distance. It’s such a lush bucolic scene.
We toured various other facilities like the sorting room, the wholesale product prep area, and a giant chilled room that contained boxes and bins of apples for BelleWood‘s retail and school partners. After meeting staff and even getting a bird’s eye view from Dorie’s own balcony, we returned to the cafe for lunch.
There was an inviting aroma of baked goods in the cafe so I opted for a hot sandwich, the French Farmer panini. It had over roasted turkey, goat Comte cheese, apple slices, and BelleWood honey mustard on a home made wheat focaccia. Upon recommendation from my server, I got the “so bad they’re so good” french fries on the side and an extra cup of their honey mustard for dipping. I paired it with one of their G Rated Beverages, the Cider Frost slushy.
I actually went back two days later and ordered take out. That time I got the Classic sandwich with oven roasted turkey, Swiss cheese, honey mustard, mayo, tomatoes, seasonal greens, served on Avenue oat and wheat bread alongside Tim’s chips and a pickle. When I think of a satisfying, all natural, hearty farm lunch, this is the picture that comes to mind. Add a frosty slushy cider on the side or some Zestar and Honeycrisp apple chips and you’re golden (delicious).
Plan Your Visit
While you can’t bring apples and pumpkins across the border, you can spend a really fun afternoon on the farm, go for a bin train tour, tour the corn maze, watch the corn canons blast off, hike by the salmon stream, savour the Country Cafe, shop for gifts, and take home some spirits which are in 750ml bottles (daily duty-free allowance is 1.14 L per person in under 24 hours). You can also bring home their vinegar, syrup, pastries, peanut butter, caramel, and other prepared goods.
Spend more than an afternoon in the area and stay at the Inn at Lynden. It’s an amazing new boutique hotel in the beautifully renovated Waples Mercantile Building. Follow Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism (Twitter, Facebook) for your trip planning needs.