Shelburne Orchards

##apples and pear mix for brandy making
Thursday, November 14, 2013

Brandy season

From where I'm standing, It's a straight shot looking north west 50 miles up lake Champlain. That north wind has nothing to slow it down till it makes landfall on the northern edge of the orchard.. The apple season is over, the trees are going to sleep for the winter, and we are just beginning to gear up for our distilling time.. So let that cold wind blow! We'll be nice and warm sitting by the wood fired still, checking the gauges.. stoking the fire and practicing a few new tunes on the mandolin. It's a good life here in this post harvest time.. It's "Brandy season".. We're hoping to fill 6 more 55 Gallon barrels with 120 proof (barrel strength) brandy.. Yeah!! And I have 9 year old used bourbon barrels from Smith Bowman Distillery to use for this years batch. I can't wait to get started.. .. Nick

Cider house Market
Monday, October 14, 2013

Season home stretch

We have the final stretch of the season in front of us.. The apples are holding on in the trees and the cider is flowing from the press.. Donuts are rolling from the Donut house and the wagon rides are filled with happy apple pickers going to and from the apple trees.. I can't remember better weather for harvest time.. It's been glorious here practically every day since the beginning of September. We are busy filling the fermentation tanks for our brandy.. The mixture of apples and pears going into the tanks this year is very exciting. We have 6 varieties of pears and over 10 varieties of apples, including McIntosh, Empire, Mutzu, Road island greenings, Cox Orange Pippin, Roxbury Russet, Ashmeads Kernel, Newtown Pippin, Baldwin and Dolgo crab apples. Truck load Saturday is October 19th.. $50 and you can fill your pickup with drops.. Bring the family and spend the day in the orchard picking the apples from under the trees and go home with all the apples you could ever need for the year.. make apple sauce... press cider or feed the livestock!! It's the best deal anywhere.. and the apples are covering the ground in some places so thick you can sit in one place and fill buckets without moving!! Happy fall!!! Nick

Friday, August 30, 2013

Ode to sour ball Macs…

We are in the early stages of McIntosh greatness!! Every apple has it’s day… and for me McIntosh apples are at their best when they are still sour!! I’m not alone here… Those people who feel the same way are showing up at the orchard these days… “Can I pick Macs?” They ask… and I say… ”Not ready yet”… “then yes, can I pick them?” … anyway… I know from the look in their eyes… They want that pain behind their jaw when they bite into those hard tart not yet ripe McIntosh. Even the hue of green is more olive color…

I love many different varieties of apples and each one has a time that they shine. Some need to wait in storage for a while after they are picked, Some are best when they have sweetened up on the tree. Even from year to year different varieties will stand out from the others just by the various differences in the growing season. I always enjoy this beginning of harvest when I look forward to what this season has in store…


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Pick for Your Neighbor

September & October 2012

Vermont Foodbank and Vermont Agency of Agriculture are again sponsoring the "Pick for Your Neighbor" program. People can pick apples at the orchard, purchase them, and then donate them to the program---we'll store them right here and the Foodbank will pick up the apples. Our goal is to donate at least 600 lbs. this year. Thanks for sharing with your neighbors!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Watching, waiting and tasting!!

All the apples are growing beautifully… The baby trees love the rain and also are growing well… As we dodge hail stones and fend off fungus, caterpillars, dirt bikers and sub dividers… another amazing apple crop is shaping itself up for September harvest season. This orcharding business so get’s into my blood!! There are so many moving parts… so many unknowns… so much to gain … so much to loose… so much time and expense, when any moment hail can rain down and destroy it all… It’s no wonder I’m making hundreds of gallons of apple brandy!! I love summer thunder storms, but they come with this element of dread… So here I am… Watching the apples grow, waiting for the storms to pass… and tasting the various barrels of brandy!! Someones gotta do it!!…


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Birds and the Bees

The blossom is over and the pollination was good!!! Thanks to Champlain valley Apiary. Chaz Mraz brings 25 of his strongest hives to the orchard when the blossoms are open. The whole orchard came alive with the buzz!! We now have many baby apples on the trees. the trees are bristling with tiny fruitlets!! Not many peaches this year… they seem to be taking a year off. We’ve had sun… and now rain… everybody is happy…

We planted hundreds of trees this spring, Many heirloom apple varieties, pears, more sour cherries… More peaches… I’ve ordered 200 plumb trees for next spring… We continue to bring in new and interesting fruit trees… It makes life in the orchard new and different… Used to be we only had apples here… Now, over 40 varieties of apples, 7 varieties of peaches, sour cherries, pears, plumbs, table grapes, pumpkins and most exciting… we’re growing cider donuts… they are tiny now… they look like little cheerios… so cute!!…


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Stirrings beneath

I can feel the buds itching to swell!! The pruning is coming down the home stretch… All the trees that are on order for planting this spring are getting ready to be shipped to us… It all starts over again. When harvest ends at the end of October, I think to myself “that’s it!, I’m never doing that again!!” But after the winter of rest and new plans … and … Spring in the air… I get inspired to do it all over again… I’m 62 years old and I’ve been doing this my whole adult life!! It truely amazes me that this crazy business keeps me so totally in love with it. Sooo… Here we go again!! One more year!! We are planting close to 500 baby trees this spring. Many of them heirloom varieties and pears!! The pears are for the brandy!! Oh yeah baby!!… the brandy!!…