Nashi Orchards, a local producer of award-winning perry and cider, has re-opened its tasting room after a long winter of closure in response to the pandemic.
The tasting room was shuttered last November in response to rising cases of COVID-19 cases, but that didn’t mean that co-owner and cidermaker Jim Gerlach ever stopped his work in producing cider and perry. He said that numerous new blends will be available in the coming months and the orchard’s most popular favorites are available right now. These include barrel-aged Black Swan cider, Hukari Asian pear perry, Idyll Acres cider and Porter’s Perfection.
According to Gerlach, the months-long closure of the tasting room had a silver lining.
“This winter allowed us time to focus on what is important and our visitor experience,” he said. “The fruit we grew in 2020 was exceptional and promises to deliver a wide range of compelling beverages throughout this year.”
In addition to cidermaking, Gerlach planted almost 100 new trees at the 107th and Cove Road property, bringing the Vashon orchard’s total to more than 700 standard fruit trees including a new block of Kingston Black cider apples, specialty perry pears, red-fleshed apples and other American heirlooms.
Nashi Orchards was first established in the late 1970s when its original owners transplanted the most promising Asian pear varieties from a trial orchard on Maury Island. Nashi Orchards, co-owned by Gerlach and Cheryl Lubbert, was formally established in 2011 and approved as a bonded winery in 2012. The Nashi North tasting room originally opened in 2019.
Gerlach and Lubbert have completed significant renovations over the last 15 years to increase the health and productivity of the trees. Their orchard is also certified as Salmon-Safe — meaning there is a commitment to working to building the soil, sequestering carbon and growing fruit without the addition of commercial pesticides or herbicides.
The re-opening tasting room offers both indoor and outdoor space for tastings. Appointments are suggested to allow for distanced service and reserve coveted covered seating during times of inclement weather. Visitors can also enjoy a cider around a new stone firepit or overlooking the pond. Another new aspect of the tasting experience is a selection of non-alcoholic apple beverages and snacks.
The tasting room re-opening also coincides with the celebration of Hanami, the Japanese tradition of picnicking under flowering fruit trees. To bring this celebration to life, Nashi Orchards is partnering with Chef Lia of Bramble House Vashon to offer Bento Box lunches on April 10 and 11. Lunch and orchard visits can be reserved at Nashi Orchards’ online store.
“While closing for the first time in nine years was a difficult decision and adversely impacted the business, we felt it was the right thing to do for our community,” said Lubbert. “April feels like an appropriate and safe time to re-open. We are excited to see people again.”
Nashi Orchards’ regular tasting room hours are 12 p.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays, at 16906 107 Ave. SW, Vashon. Contact the co-owners with retail or wholesale requests at (206) 463-0358, follow on Facebook or Instagram Nashi Orchards or on Twitter @Nashi_Orchards.