Our History

The story of Apple Hill Orchard and Cider Mill is the story of the Amer­i­can fam­ily farm. Our farm­ing roots can be traced back to the turn of the 20th cen­tury. Farm­ing is a never end­ing job, but we love it nonetheless.

Mr. & Mrs. Harley Prewitt, Sr.

Mr. & Mrs. Harley Pre­witt, Sr.

Our fam­ily is the heart of the apple busi­ness, and Spencer Pre­witt began the fam­ily tra­di­tion. Spencer began grow­ing apples in a time before mod­ern con­vinces. Instead of sell­ing his pro­duce to just a local gen­eral store or nearby fam­i­lies, Spencer would load an old wagon and begin the long trek to the pied­mont of North Car­olina. Along the way he would sell or barter his fruit and enjoy Grandma Sara’s fried pies.

Julius, Spencer’s son, fol­lowed in his father’s foot­steps and con­tin­ued to grow apples. Julius and his wife Lilly had twelve chil­dren. Two of the chil­dren inher­ited the apple grow­ing gene and either pur­chased or planted their own orchards. Harley Pre­witt Sr., Julius’ son, pur­chased an exist­ing orchard that became known as Apple Hill Orchard and Cider Mill.

Harley and his wife Essie pur­chased the orchard in 1955. At first, Harley sold his har­vest in the man­ner of his grand­fa­ther, ped­dling apples from the back of an old 1950 Chevro­let pickup truck. Over time, apples were sold at the orchard. In later years, addi­tional trees were planted, and apples were sold through pack­ing houses. The South Moun­tain Pack­ing House was built in the 1970’s by local grow­ers, includ­ing Harley. Over time, the mar­ket for sell­ing fruit through pack­ing houses became more dif­fi­cult. South Moun­tain Pack­ing House was ulti­mately closed.

Apple Hill Orchard, Winter, 1960

Apple Hill Orchard, Win­ter, 1960

In an effort to main­tain the farm, the Pre­witt fam­ily began plant­ing new vari­eties of apples and went back to their roots of sell­ing apples directly to their cus­tomers. A cold stor­age facil­ity was added along with a county store.  In 1994, the cider mill was added, and then an apple cider flash pas­teur­izer was added a few years later. The addi­tions of the Coun­try Store and Cider Mill greatly expanded the orchard.

The Pre­witt fam­ily opened the orchard for you pick in the early 2000s. The bak­ery was opened in the fall of 2007. Both have quickly become cus­tomer favorites. Cur­rently, the Pre­witts are always look­ing for new ways to expand Apple Hill Orchard and to keep alive the tra­di­tion of grow­ing apples. Our busi­ness is a fam­ily busi­ness that has stretched across gen­er­a­tions, and is now enter­ing into its fifth gen­er­a­tion, which will bring new ideas to the orchard.

Sadly many orchard and fam­ily farms are no longer able to sur­vive. Our family’s orchard is part of the Enola Com­mu­nity that rests in the South Moun­tains of west­ern North Car­olina. Dur­ing the time of Harley Sr., the Enola com­mu­nity was referred to as “the heart of the fruit grow­ing coun­try” by Dr. Edward W. Phiefer, Jr. in his book Burke. How­ever, over time, other apple orchards have dis­ap­peared and Apple Hill Orchard is the last remain­ing apple orchard in Burke County.

“Apples have been a part of my family’s his­tory for a long time. It is hard for me to imag­ine great Grandpa Spencer ped­dling apples from a wagon around 1900. But my father remem­bered Grandpa Spencer, his orchard, and the sto­ries he told about his ped­dling trips. Dad even enjoyed the fried pies from his Grandma Sara’s kitchen.”

Harley Pre­witt, Jr.