We are entering our 6th season of making apple brandy.. Now the picking season is over, we move seamlessly into filling the fermenting tanks with cider from our cider apple varieties. By December we will be ready to start distilling. We're putting the final touches on the new barrel cellar and hope to move all the barrels in before this years distilling starts. I'm really read for the quiet early winter days running the still filling barrels and playing my mandolin by the still fire. This all seems to fit so well into living out my outlaw, cowboy dreams.. I might even break out into a few wild yodels..
We are having a fantastic year here at the orchard. The weather is such a big factor.. It has been gorgeous!! I can advertise till I'm blue in the face, but if the sun comes out.. people come. And that they have!! As far as people coming..we have had record braking days right through September.. not only weekends but also week days. The result of this is that the apples are getting picked faster than ever before and it looks like we will be finished for the season earlier than in the past. Clearly we are at least a week ahead of where we were last year. Last year was a bumper crop. We started this season with less apples than a year ago and this also is a factor. My advise is, If you want apples from us this year.. come sooner than later!! If you wait till late October you may miss your chance.. Nick
Saturday September 18th is a day to put on your calendar. It's both "Truck load Saturday" and "Hard Cider Saturday"!! We squeeze a wonderful combination of apples for making hard cider.. Many of the best cider apple varieties are the old heirloom varieties that were grown for their preference in making good cider. We add many of these together to fill a 1000 gallon tank for filling your carboys!! unpasteurized, unfiltered, and ready to go.. we also sell various yeasts, fermentation locks and carboys to anyone who might need equipment to start making their own. Rob Healy, A.K.A "Carboy" will be on hand to answer any questions and share recipes. We also have a great deal on drops that same day.. $50 for all the apples you can fit in a pickup truck.. ( There will not be as many apples this season as there have been in past years )
We are in the zone now!! The apples are ripe and ready to be picked. McIntosh are our biggest seller.. and this time of year is their best season.. They are sweet and sour at the same time, and when you sink your teeth into one straight off the tree, you'll understand why this part of New England is called "McIntosh Country"!!! Or cider press is up and running, our donut machines are steadily pumping out thousands of donuts.. and the cool days of fall are giving us back our superpowers!!! We have many varieties of apples that ripen at different times throughout the season... See you at the orchard!!! ...Nick
Terry and I have both been carpenters in past lives.. so working together on this project we instantly revert back to our crude carpenter banter, we take 10 o'clock coffee breaks, something we seldom do while working in the orchard.. and we actually get it right most of the time when one of us hollers out a measurement with 9/16th in it^$%%^$%.. Yeah.. we're that good!!
We are building a new cellar for the brandy barrels. The old one is getting too small and as we keep getting more and more barrels every year, I get more and more afraid of fire.. Being our 5th year of accumulating barrels, We have over 1500 gallons now in oak and it not only represents a big chunk of work and expense.. It's five years of aging that we would never get back.. So the new cellar is built with fire safety in mind.
If you have never tasted a fresh sour cherry pie from "just picked" sour cherries.. then never mind.. you will not understand what is about to happen here!! Oh my!! I get it!! I was once one of those people who didn't like cherry pie.. I liked pumpkin and apple and blueberry.. yes.. any kind of pie but cherry. That was because all I ever had was one from a can.. cherries from a can!! Well I'm here to tell you that it's like the difference between real home made spaghetti where the sauce has simmered for hours and the pasta is fresh and the parmesan is grated fresh.. compared to spaghetti from a can!! right?.. there is no comparison . Or a hot fudge sunday where you've baked the brownies all gooey and whipped real cream.. and melted champlain chocolate's dark bittersweet chocolate and drizzled it all over it.. compared to an ice cream sandwich from the gas station.. Or getting a letter from your wife or girl friend from half way around the world instead of her sitting right there next to her in full living color smiling and you reach over and give her a mouth full of fresh sweet!! amazing sweet and sour at the same time!! sour cherry PIE!!!!!! .. OMG!!! Yes it's all about to happen.. right here at Shelburne Orchards.. usually around the week of the 4th of July.. So be sure you are signed up on the email news letter here on our website in the "about us " tab.. cause thats the only way you will know when we are open for picking these little bright red gorgeous beauties.. Nick
This is the time of year we tree spade up trees to sell.. When I plant trees as whips every spring, I plant 2 and sometimes 3 times as many trees in a row then I plan on ending up with. As the trees grow over the next 5 to 10 years they need to be thinned out to make room for each other.. So I dig every other tree out and sell them to people who want their very own apple tree or trees.. As part of my business, it's been fun helping people around Vermont, actually all over New England.. start small back yard orchards. It feels like they're my children going out in the world. I also get to keep in touch with both the trees and their owners.. I'm always available for free advice.. It's not really work to me as much as it's my interest and the just plain love of it.. I started writing a small booklet on "apple tree care.. The early years" But why do that when I can talk directly to people on the phone.. So once the trees are out of the ground and in their burlap tree balls.. anyone interested in buying one or more of my trees can come on down and go shopping!! Check out our website for varieties and approximate pricing… Nick
This is Day 6 for me pruning this year.. My arms and shoulders are not as sore as 2 days ago.. feeling stronger.. It's only 4 pm and the light is fading.. I can here the chainsaw now and then from down in the lower dump block where Terry is pruning.. them I hear Robs saw going over in the long rows.. A few big cuts with the chain saw.. many smaller cuts with the wire back hand saw while climbing all over the tree.. then finishing with the pruning pole, shortening up the longer branches that need "heading back".. It's kind of meditative work.. I often think of my Dad when I prune.. he used to love it.. He would talk endlessly about the various pruning techniques to me when I was little.. he read everything there was about it, that's my Dad, if there was a book about anything he was interested in.. he'd have read it.. Me, I like to listen.. I remember him pointing to the little wrinkled collar of bark right around where a small branch would connect to a larger branch and tell me that was called "elephant skin" (Which is what it looks like) and that I needed to make my cut just above it. It was the bark that would grow over the wound. Don't cut too far above it or you'll leave a stub.. which will die and cause black rot. That was probably 50 years ago.. and I still think of him explaining it to me.. I know that his enjoyment of the orchard has been very contagious to me.. I just emailed him some of these photos .. They can't grow good McIntosh in New Mexico!!