The Farmer and I love apple and pear brandy. In fact, I introduced him to Oregon’s very own Clear Creek Distillery’s Eaux de Vie William’s Pear Brandy on the night we met.
While he has been planning his organic farm out here in Colton, Oregon, he has had his eye on a few prizes that are already thriving in the rocky soils of our property – – a wild and random orchard of apple and pear trees. He plans to pluck the fruit this fall and start mashing them for distillation. We’re going to try our hand at distilling our very own orchard fruit brandy.
Pear tree in the middle of our organic veggie field
My interest in apple and fruit brandies goes back a few years, when I was working for a wine wholesaler in Washington, DC. We had a handful of magnificent French brandies in our portfolio, including G.E. Massenez from Alsace. I still use the Kirschwasser brandy for cooking. But, what excited me the most was the Massenez Williams Poire Brandy. And, what excited me even more was the luminous and mysteriously beautiful Massenez Pear in the Bottle Eaux de Vie. I learned that the producer placed the decorative bottles on the branches of their pear trees and – voila! – the pears would grow in the bottle. Tres manifique!
When I moved out to Oregon five years ago to work in the wine industry, I discovered Clear Creek Distillery. I learned that proprietor Stephen R. McCarthy not only made a wonderful selection of intriguing brandies and distilled spirits, including a Doug Fir Eaux de Vie inspired by an obscure Alsatian distillate called Eaux de Vie de Bourgeons de Sapin (a tree spirit), but, he had his lovely clear bottles gracing the lovely limbs of his lovely trees – making Oregon’s very own apple and pear in the bottle brandies. I had my Christmas gift list figured out for the next five years!
The other night I picked up a bottle of the Williams Pear Brandy, and the Farmer and I each enjoyed our own drink. He added his to a shaker with ice and served it cold, straight up, in a brandy sifter for indulgent sipping. I, on the other hand, enjoyed mine poured over ice in a cut-crystal highball glass, topped with organic ginger ale, finished with a slice of lime, otherwise known as a Lennart cocktail. It was divine.
Clear Creek has become an inspiration for the Farmer and me. We are planning a visit on August 1st for their Orchard Open House. We intend to tour their facility – which includes their gleaming, traditional European pot stills. And, by then, the fruit should be fully grown, perfect to see the pears and apples growing in bottles in the orchard.
Meantime, we are watching the flowers cap off into tiny pear and apple fruit. It’s exciting! We’re about to learn what varieties of fruit we’ve got growing.
La Vie de Ferme has exceeded my expectations. There is a simple joy to living in a rustic way, with nature all around and the generous abundance of vegetation from lush hard-worked crops, to the delight of perfect, picturesque orchard trees that promise delicious spirit in the not too distant future. There’s nothing like returning to the source.
And, we want it all! Hearty, organic crops, lush grape vines to make our own wine, and the savored pear and apple brandies to keep us warm, happy and ever grateful well into the next fruit harvest.
We intend to share the fruits of our labor – whether selling the Farmer’s veggies in a CSA and to local chefs, having friends over to enjoy a few bottles of wine (well, that won’t happen for at least 4 years), or spending the holidays with the people we love while sipping on our home-grown brandies, we can’t wait to share what we’ve accomplished with our friends and future customers – our soon-to-be extended family.