As craft cider makers, our thoughts on products for our first launches naturally included ciders. Perry, or pear cider wasn't necessary our first thought as we planned our first releases.
However that all changed our first autumn here. We were hiking through the farm and knew immediately we'd discovered something pretty special when we noticed these massive trees were covered with these fantastic clusters of wild perry pears.
Guessing by the height of them we estimate they must be at least 60 years old, which for us makes this find that much sweeter - since perry pears are endearingly known to be something you plant not for yourself – but for your heirs, because they take years, sometimes decades before they produce a full crop.
The origin of these pears is as yet unknown, were they at one point cultivated, or are they just naturalized wildings? Most likely, they feral descendants of a European cultivar – either pyrus communis or pyraster, both varieties are often found naturalized in hedgerows and open woodlands.
Either way, they are an interesting tree. Similar to apples, wild pears are a member of the Rosaceae family, but typically produce clusters of small 2-4cm pears that are often quite hard until they ripen mid-autumn.
When we came upon them in early November, most of the crop except the highest clusters had already fallen to the ground. We were surprised to discover how sweet they actually are – full of true pear flavor, with slightly spicy finish. Followed by the hit of sweetness, there’s an element of bitterness and the sort of astringency that makes your mouth feel as though its been turned inside out. There's a reason they call them spitters! But this was great news, because these tannins are what make for an excellent perry.
It was another full year before we could harvest these beauties again, which we did in the fall of 2016 to product our first vintage. The pears were carefully gathered late October after the first few frosts and pressed on a rack and cloth press, producing gorgeous thick golden juice.
We then let it ferment slowly over the next 4 months, and aged another 4 months on the lees.
Let me tell you, it was worth the wait.
Our 2016 Old Orchard Perry is fragrant and floral, more delicate and refined than cider - with true pear aroma and a hint of spice. Produced using the ‘methode traditionelle’ to create natural fine carbonation. The result is more comparable to a brut sparkling wine or champagne with wonderful soft tiny bubbles that linger.
We hope you enjoy it as much as we do. Now available for purchase in our online shop.