A Victorian orcharding family mix high-tech and tradition to grow apples and stone fruit to suit every fruit lover’s taste.

The Montague family believe there’s a perfect apple for everyone and that it’s their job to grow a variety of apples to keep everyone healthy and happy. They’ve been growing apples in Narre Warren North since 1952, when Bill Montague planted trees on the site of their fruit and veg market in the rolling hills 45 kilometres south-east of Melbourne.

Since then, they have expanded their production to cover over 100 hectares, both on the original farm site and in the historic apple growing region of Harcourt, north of Melbourne. On average there are 3000 trees per hectare, with each hectare producing 70 000 kilograms of fruit every year. The family also grow nectarines and plums. While a portion of the fruit is exported, much of it sold through supermarkets.

Montague has invested heavily in technology that allows the team to determine when the fruit is perfect for harvest. Ripe fruit, ready for eating, goes straight to market. Other fruit is kept in controlled-atmosphere cool rooms. This allows the starch in the fruit to slowly change into sugar and for the flavour to develop. All the fruit grown at Montague orchards is picked by hand to protect the delicate skin and the buds on which next season’s fruit will grow.

While Montague grows some old-fashioned apple favourites such as Granny Smith, it also has rights to grow modern varieties such as Envy, with its pure white flesh, the aromatic Ambrosia, the super-crunchy SweeTango and the sweet and tangy Jazz. The family also grows crunchy but sweet Montague Tree-branded plums, and they pack and sell the consistently good Nectara-branded nectarines grown at Katunga.

The apple season is a long one, with the first SweeTangos harvested in February and the last of the Pink Ladies picked in the first weeks of winter.

Products: Montague Tree plums, Nectara nectarines, Ambrosia apples, Envy apples, SweeTango apples, Jazz apples 

https://montaguefarms.com.au/ @montagueofficial