Cheryl Lubbert and Jim Gerlach, owners of Vashon perry and cider company Nashi Orchards, have recently opened a second location for tastings and production.
“We basically were out of space,” Lubbert said about their original orchard — the 27-acre plot just off Wax Orchard, crammed tight with about 600 trees of over 20 fruit varieties.
The new location, sitting right at the corner of 107th Avenue and Cove Road, includes everything the couple could have wanted in a potential expansion. The opening day was over Strawberry Festival weekend.
“It has space for new trees, a new tasting room, parking, an office for my husband and enough space to meet demand and increase our production,” Lubbert said.
The new tasting room, which is decorated with a blend of rustic and modern touches, is connected to a series of rooms and buildings, all of which will accommodate the new tank room, a new cooler and a new commercial kitchen, as well as storage for fruit, glass and equipment. The property also includes a cabin suitable for Lubbert’s mother to live in.
At the first location, Lubbert explained, they were just trying to make it work. The couple did not buy their first property with the intention of making cider and perry. At the new location, however, “We have the space to be thoughtful and planned,” said Lubbert. “It’ll give my husband more bandwidth to continue making the best perry and cider possible.”
The property originally belonged to the well-known sculptor and artist Julie Speidel. It was her studio and gallery. However, after discovering that Lubbert was looking for a place for her mother to live, Speidel suggested that Lubbert take a look at the cabin on her property. At the time, Speidel was thinking about selling the property and retiring.
“It was perfect for my mother,” said Lubbert about the cabin. “The rest of the property was perfect too. Truly serendipitous. I got the contract the next day.”
To help make the new property more their own, Lubbert and Gerlach commissioned a mural from Vashon artist Annie Brulé. Brulé had painted a mural of an Asian pear at their first location, and so for the second location, they knew they wanted to bring Brulé back. The new mural, still in the process of being finished, includes detailed paintings of bees, fruit blossoms and a bottle of Nashi’s signature perry. The illustrative concept of the mural gets at the heart of what the company is about: passionately doing what you love.
“I wanted something that portrayed that feeling,” Lubbert said, “And because we’re a sustainable, salmon-safe orchard, I wanted to highlight the things that are really important to us from an environmental standpoint.”
That’s where the inspiration to include the bees and pollinators came from.
“We wanted to celebrate what we make.” Lubbert said. “It was important to us that we highlighted the process.”
Nashi Orchards has tastings at their new location Fridays from 3 to 6 p.m. and weekends noon to 5 p.m.
— Callan Foster is a freelance writer.