Cherries are one of the most popular fruits around the country, especially as we move into holiday season. We sat down with the CherryHill Orchards team to find out what goes into growing these delicious fruit.
Tell us a little bit about CherryHill Orchard.
We are a third-generation Australian family-owned and operated cherry grower based in the Yarra Valley, Victoria. Throughout spring and summer, we take pride in hosting award-winning agri-tourism experiences at our Wandin East and Coldstream Orchards.
What goes into the growing, harvesting, packaging of cherries?
All of our cherries are grown in our Victorian orchards, handpicked, hydro-cooled, and transported in refrigerated trucks to maintain ultimate freshness. Our cherries are then placed in a cool room at 1°C before being packed and dispatched within 48 hours of harvest.
What conditions are necessary to ensure excellent quality cherries?
Well drained soil, an adequate winter chill, and a frost-free spring to avoid the flowers and small fruit being damaged. Ideally only sufficient rain, as excessive rain can result in splitting in fruit.
How many orchards does CherryHill have? What goes into the maintenance of these?
CherryHill Orchards span across four regions of Victoria and Southern NSW. We have two orchards that are open to the public to pick their own fresh cherries in the Yarra Valley, and our other orchards are commercially harvested to provide cherries for grocery and fresh fruit stores.
Yarra Valley, Victoria
The historical home of Victorian cherries, the iconic Yarra Valley is where it all began for CherryHill. Rich, fertile soils, long sunshine hours, and an ample supply of fresh water from the Yarra River ensure the Yarra Valley is synonymous with all things agriculture.
Victorian High Country
The crisp cool air here is the perfect location for our late season cherries, whose trees produce fewer fruit, which are generally larger in size with a sweet, low-acid flavour. The trees here are fed by spring water from the nearby snow melt and take advantage of habitual winter temperatures that stimulate an even blossom to produce the best possible crop, when the warm temperatures of summer return.
Goulburn Valley, Victoria
The rich soils and sun-kissed slopes of this classic Victorian countryside provide ideal fruit-growing conditions, and it’s locally known that everything from here tastes better. The Goulburn River and its many tributaries provide ample irrigation to an abundance of orchards that flourish in the sheltered river plain.
The cool evenings counter the warm days of summer to produce CherryHill’s mid-season crop of Kordia and Regina cherries; characterised by their firm, crunchy flesh, deep mahogany colour, and extensive depth of flavour, these large cherries prove ever popular for cherry lovers, season after season.
Murray Valley, Victoria
Home to Cobram, CherryHill’s largest orchard, the Murray Valley is the perfect location for our cherries to thrive in the well-drained soil and open, sunny plains of this ancient river catchment. This orchard is where we grow our early season cherries, due to the warmer temperatures and longer sunshine hours.
Direct access to fresh, clean water from the Murray River ensures our cherry trees consistently produce a high-quality, full crop and make it to your table as soon as possible.
How many cherries does Cherry Hill Orchard produce in a season?
Crop yields vary from season to season, and this year we have had ideal weather conditions to date and expect a bumper crop.
How many different varieties of cherry do you guys produce?
We grow over 30 varieties here at CherryHill. Some of our favourites include Royal Dawn, Regina, Nordwunder, Sylvia, Bing, and Sweet Georgia. Our cherries are grown across the Yarra Valley, Murray Valley, Goulburn Valley, and the Victorian High Country regions, so the availability of each variety will depend on the growing location and seasonal timings. Every box of CherryHill cherries contains delicious varieties that have been picked at the perfect time to be sweet, plump, and juicy.
What are the main differences between varieties?
While we cultivate a diverse range of cherry varieties on our properties, our primary emphasis has always been on showcasing the excellence of our CherryHill cherries as a collective offering. Our commitment is to nurture and deliver a superior-quality product that exemplifies the essence of our orchards.
Sustainability is one of the focuses of your business, can you tell us a little bit more about that?
As a third-generation agricultural business, the CherryHill Orchards team understands the importance of minimising our impact on the environment and ensuring that we contribute positively to a sustainable future.
CherryHill is proud to be working towards the Australian 2025 National Packaging Targets and has made the following changes:
- Phasing out single-use plastic items at our tourism visitor centres, including cups, straws, and spoons
- Consciously reducing electricity and energy usage, as well as employing sustainably sourced energy
- Establishing water saving, water recycling, and treatment programs at our orchards and tourism and packing facilities
- Joining the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO)
- Removing all non-recyclable packaging, as recognised by APCO, and implementing packaging that is fully recyclable.
In line with APCOs 2025 targets, CherryHill Orchards continues to work towards a more sustainable and stable environment. We are committed to continuing to researching, testing, and implementing sustainable options throughout our business.
Main image: Cliff Risebourgh (right) with his sons Stephen (middle) and Glenn (left) from third‑generation family farm CherryHill Orchards