Dixon apples make sweet two-day return to New Mexico

Albuquerque News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A legacy New Mexico apple orchard made a brief, but busy, return to Albuquerque for a two-day sale of their famous Champagne Apples and cider.

“My daughter texted me about 11 o’clock last night and said that they had 180 boxes of the apples left, the champagne apples that we grew up on from Dixon so we were afraid we’d missed it,” said Rhonda Varley, a loyal Dixon’s customer.

Now based in Wisconsin, the legendary Dixon’s Apple Orchard brought a truckload of its famous apples and cases of cider to Albuquerque on Sunday, October 11-12. The family-owned orchard was selling their fruit locally for the second time in two years. In 2019, the family did a one-day sale in New Mexico for the first time since the business closed in 2011.

“Oh, it was crazy. The line was really long and people were excited to get the champagne apples again here,” said Luke Mullane, the son of the owners of Dixon’s Apple Orchard.

Mullane says they sold more than 800 boxes of the Dixon Orchard’s ‘Champagne Apples’ on Sunday and set up early Monday morning to sell the remaining 180 boxes. People waited in line for up to three hours.

“Not surprised at all. We were so devastated when Dixon’s orchard got wiped out by the floods,” said Steve Varley. “These are the best apples.”

The orchard originally opened in 1944 near the Cochiti Pueblo, north of Albuquerque. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of people bought apples from the farm, which became well-known for its champagne apples.

In 2011, the Las Conchas fire burned part of the farm. The wildfire led to flooding, which eventually forced the business to close.

Over the last nine years, the orchard has found a new home in Wisconsin’s Chippewa Valley. About five years ago, Mullane planted the next generation of apple trees from cuttings of the original New Mexico trees.

“The people down here are family to us. We want to keep our relationship down here and keep the Champagne Apple here. People think we’re crazy for traveling down here with it, but we’re more than happy to do it,” said Mullane.

Even with the pandemic, Mullane says they still wanted to make the trip down to New Mexico.

“At first, we were kinda iffy about it but as the year got on we just thought that people would know what to do with social distance and make the best of it, wear face protection. We still wanted to bring the fruit down and be able to sell it to our family here in Albuquerque,” said Mullane.

Mullane and his wife did travel to New Mexico from Wisconsin, which the state of New Mexico considers “high-risk”. Mullane says they did not get a COVID-19 test before their trip or quarantine once they arrived.

“We tried to keep our distance from people but still help them out and just try to be as safe as possible,” said Mullane.

Mullane says they sold out of all their boxes of apples. They plan on returning to Albuquerque with another truckload next fall.

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