5 fun ways to get a taste of the harvest

By Katia Hetter, CNNUpdated 12th October 2012
Punching down the grapes. Digging up the clams. Harvesting the sugar cane.
Harvest isn't just picking pumpkins for Halloween.
Typically the back-breaking work of farm employees pushing against time to store the fruits of their labor before winter comes, harvest has also become a theme for travelers who want a taste of the bounty -- without all the work.
Travelers vacationing during the fall harvest can celebrate all sorts of different food stuffs ripe for the picking (or digging, in some cases). And if you simply want the seasonal food brought to your dinner table, there are options for you.
Vintner for the day
While guests will certainly enjoy sipping from the 12,000-bottle wine cellar at the Bacara Resort & Spa's restaurant, the resort also offers the opportunity to get dirty with the grapes. Guests can work with Santa Barbara's top winemakers, walking through a vineyard, sorting grapes and helping with the punch downs.
The program is scheduled to continue through the end of November and depends upon the availability of slots at nearby wineries, which may include Brewer-Clifton, Carhartt Vineyard and Harrison Clarke Wine.
"Bacara Crush is designed to not only take our guests behind the scenes of harvest, but allow them to participate in the process," Kathleen Cochran, general manager of Bacara Resort & Spa, said in a statement.
The $695 price per couple includes a tour guide, transportation, an approximately 8 a.m.-1 p.m. work day, wine tastings and a gourmet picnic at the vineyard. (It does not include rooms, which start at $299/night in October and November.)
The sugar cane harvest
The Middleton Place National Historic Landmark in Charleston, South Carolina, showcases 18th- and 19th-century plantation life, with costumed interpreters doing the work once performed by enslaved African-Americans.
During the Plantation Days weekend of November 10-11, the interpreters will harvest and press the plantation's small sugar cane crop.
While visitors can't help with the sugar cane because of safety issues, there are other hands-on activities, including processing Carolina Gold rice and working with Sea Island Cotton.
Visitors who stay at the Inn at Middleton Place will receive tickets to Middleton Place included in the price of their stay.
Visit Middleton Place's website for specifics on activities and demos.
Picnic on the Appalachian Trail
The Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville's "Picnics on the Parkway" package makes it easy to enjoy the seasonal offerings of North Carolina farms while picnicking on one of the country's most famous trails.
Picnics on the Parkway, starting at $394/night, includes the room, breakfast for two, a pocket guide of North Carolina birds, a 3-D topography map to the Blue Ridge Parkway and a picnic basket filled with food from southern farms and the local farmer's market.
To sample all that Asheville's local and seasonal restaurant scene has to offer, head to this North Carolina independent food mecca for "Taste of Asheville" on November 14.
For a more traditional fall experience, head to the Historic Orchard at Altapass, an 104-year-old apple orchard located on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The orchard also offers fresh fudge, honey from its hives, hayrides and a Butterfly Conservation Center to keep the kids busy.
Digging for dinner
Not all harvesting goes on in the fields. Add seafood to the list of what can be harvested in the fall on Prince Edward Island. (Clamming isn't restricted to fall; clammers can dig whenever the shore isn't frozen). Novice clammers can dig for dinner with Experience PEI's experienced clam diggers, who will take you on expeditions through the end of October.
The company's "digging for dinner" excursion takes place on the western part of beautiful Prince Edward Island, where the group learns how to find the clams and how to dig without damaging the shells.
After the group has enough for "a feed of clams," the diggers retire to a restored train caboose, where the lead digger steams up the clams and serves your catch fresh.
"Our clam diggers are wonderful characters in their own right, great storytellers in their own right,' says Bill Kendrick, co-owner of Experience PEI.
Reservations are recommended for the 2-3 hour trip, but the meeting time will vary by availability of Kendrick's diggers, the time of low tide and the weather. Prices range from $65-$85 per person depending on group size.
Experience PEI; 1-866-887-3238
Enjoying fruits of the harvest
If you prefer to let others do the harvesting for you, dine on the fruits of the harvest at Boston Harbor Hotel, where hotel guests and locals alike can enjoy tea poured into your cup (not into the harbor). The waterfront hotel's chef Daniel Bruce is offering a Fall Harvest Tea through November 29.
"Fall is my favorite season," says Bruce, in an email. "The colors, aromas and ingredients all contribute to setting the tone for a perfect tea."
Bruce's tea menu infuses the flavors of fall into sweet and savory items.
"The Maple Smoked Salmon tea sandwiches have a wonderful smokiness, while the tartness of the freshly picked apples perfectly complements the roasted chicken in the apple chicken salad tea sandwiches," he says. "And, of course, everyone loves pumpkin and walnuts in desserts for autumn."
Bruce, who serves his Harvest Teas in the hotel's Rowes Wharf Sea Grille, also offers Halloween, Christmas and other seasonal teas. The harvest tea costs $39 for adults and $25 for children.