Leona Valley: Cherry Time

It's that time of year, so find a place to pick your own.

THERE ARE FAMOUS FRUITS, and iconic fruits, and fruits that regularly appear in the bowl on the kitchen counter. Then there's the cherry, which feels so stratospheric in its superstardom that, just perhaps, it could be presented with its own fruit-fantastic designation, one that signifies its place in popular culture. When someone says "that's cherry" that, of course, means they're talking about something exception, and "life is a bowl of cherries" is a common upbeat saying. That cherry pies are as beloved as the wee fruit itself furthers the fruit's reputation, and cherry hard candy is about the best of all candy (let's not quibble over that fact, because you know you also go for the bright red sweets first). Leona Valley is something of a major bastion for all things juicy and pittable, and cherries really go to town around the beginning of June.

A NUMBER OF ORCHARDS... and farms around Southern California are at their bursting point right after Memorial Day Weekend, like Villa del Sol or Windy Ridge Ranch, both located in the Leona Valley not far from Lancaster. Leona Valley is also home to several other top-notch growers, but be sure to check first, before heading out, to make sure all of those delicious cherries haven't been picked already. Cherries go fast, which is no surprise, but you just may visit the right spot at the right moment and leave with a bag big enough for a few pies. Want to find your orchard? The Leona Valley Cherry Grower's Association has the flavorful rundown of local spots. A few are showing "sold out" -- as mentioned, those cherries go -- so research your daytrip now, cherry fans.

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