<![CDATA[Willow Oaks craft cider - Dispatches]]>Fri, 27 Aug 2021 17:40:55 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Weaving a safe, post-pandemic world]]>Mon, 17 May 2021 13:11:47 GMThttp://willowoakscraftcider.com/dispatches/weaving-a-safe-post-pandemic-worldWe miss your smile! And we are committed to doing everything we can to protect our most vulnerable community members. This has been and unimaginably difficult year and we are all looking forward to weaving a safe, post-pandemic life.
We will be happy to greet you outside without our masks. If you would prefer to have us mask up when we interact with you just say the word.
Please continue to wear your mask when coming indoors
Our primary seating will be outside. We will have limited, well-ventilated distanced seating options inside the tasting room. 
We look forward to seeing how the relaxed guidelines in the broader community affect the overall Covid-19 case numbers. Our primary obligation is to help keep each other safe. Thank you for helping us do that.
~Lori & Eric
<![CDATA[Willow Oaks at Thatcher & Rye]]>Thu, 22 Apr 2021 17:43:54 GMThttp://willowoakscraftcider.com/dispatches/willow-oaks-at-thatcher-ryeChef Bryan Voltaggio is preparing a special pairing menu featuring Willow Oaks' cider. Click on the link below for reservations.

Love Local Dinner SeriesLove Local Dinner series highlights a local craft beverage business each week on Wednesdays & Thursdays. Chef Bryan prepares a custom 3-course menu paired with drinks from our local breweries, distilleries, & wineries. Reservations are recommended but walk-ins are welcome.  The menu is available both indoor and outdoor and it comes at a fixed cost of $65, with the paired drinks included.
<![CDATA[Spring!]]>Fri, 09 Apr 2021 13:03:12 GMThttp://willowoakscraftcider.com/dispatches/springCautiously peeking out over the tops of our masks we are looking forward to welcoming cider fans back to Willow Oaks. We are open Saturdays & Sundays, 11am-5pm for flights, glasses, and bottle sales on the deck.  Picture

<![CDATA[Slowing down...]]>Sun, 29 Nov 2020 20:51:24 GMThttp://willowoakscraftcider.com/dispatches/slowing-down
The weather is growing colder, the winds are blowing, and we're all working hard to keep each other safe by limiting our seating to outside, tucked under the patio heaters. Through December we will be open for curbside pickup and bottle sales - Saturdays only 11-4. As always we are happy to arrange pickup or local delivery on another day or time. https://country-pleasures-farm.square.site

Wash those hands, wear a mask and keep social distance.
<![CDATA[Waning 2020...]]>Wed, 18 Nov 2020 12:47:36 GMThttp://willowoakscraftcider.com/dispatches/waning-2020
While the weather is still fair we will be open Saturday & Sunday 11-4. Though we are technically allowed to have seating inside, we have only been serving cider flights out on our deck, and in our garden. And there's cowTV! The last couple weeks of November look to be perfectly sunny, autumnal weather. 

Outside is the safest space for visiting with friends during the pandemic. Willow Oaks is continuing to be vigilant about mask wearing and sanitizing. 

Stay safe, wash your hands, wear a mask.
<![CDATA[Dessert Wines!]]>Sat, 07 Mar 2020 16:04:32 GMThttp://willowoakscraftcider.com/dispatches/dessert-wines
​Our farm was originally a land grant from the King of England to the ancestors of the Harley family. One of the family's decedents told us that during the Civil War the Harleys sheltered their horses and other livestock under the rock ledges on Catoctin Creek. For the last several years a pair of Bald Eagles have made their nest in a Sycamore tree along our little stretch of Catoctin Creek and watched over the "keep". 
Drawing on these stories, this series of dessert wines inherit their names from the roots of our land and those who have called this place home. 
We grow, pick, press and ferment our fruit. The long, cool fermentation and aging in “neutral” French Oak barrels takes 2 years. We choose some fermented cider and perry to take to our friends at McClintock Distillery, where they distill it into spirits for us. The distilled spirits are mixed with cider or perry, along with fermenting fresh juice. This new mix is then aged in American Oak. Similar to a port wine in structure, the distilled spirits added to fermenting juice halts the fermentation process allowing us to retain some fruit sweetness without adding sulfites. 
Centuries of caring for the land and its history - 30 years from soil to sapling, harvest to bottle - 4.5 years from harvest to bottle. 
Willow Oaks craft cider – serving history
Harley's Keep- label artwork by Linda Harrison-Parsons
375ml    $44 
Organic apples
Elegant, oak aged apple wine
17% abv

375ml    $44 
Organic pears
Silky, richly flavored organic pear wine. 
17% abv
Coming soon!
Gracie’s Calling
375ml    $44 
Organic blueberries and apples
17% abv
375ml    $44 
Organic blackberries and apples
17% abv
$1.00 per sample to add to your standard cider tasting
$7.00 per glass

<![CDATA[See you in the Spring! We are closed this weekend 12/28-29 and will be open by appointment January-April]]>Sat, 28 Dec 2019 13:15:26 GMThttp://willowoakscraftcider.com/dispatches/see-you-in-the-spring-we-are-closed-this-weekend-1228-29-and-will-be-open-by-appointment-january-april<![CDATA[Farewell 2019!]]>Wed, 18 Dec 2019 14:01:33 GMThttp://willowoakscraftcider.com/dispatches/farewell-2019Picture

Well, 2019 certainly has zoomed by. Eric and Lori want to thank our community for its support again this year. We will be open 12/21-22 to help you celebrate the holidays and cheer in 2020. Our fabulous new bottlings of Harley's Keep, our "pommeau" apple dessert wine and Bequest, our pear wine will make a fine addition to your holiday table and may just make a nice gift for the craft beverage lover on your list. 

Remember, we always host an array of fine artists' work as well as pottery, jewelry and other handcrafts. You could go to the mall, but why? Support small businesses and independent artists and shop local!

We will be open by appointment only January-March 2020.


<![CDATA[Homesteaders!]]>Sun, 08 Sep 2019 14:05:49 GMThttp://willowoakscraftcider.com/dispatches/homesteaders

​​Homesteader Series
Varietal ciders honoring the intrepid families who settled US land grants
Required to make improvements on their claim, homesteaders built small structures, farmed their fields and planted orchards. Planting apple trees demonstrated commitment that these new homesteaders would stay-that apple tree would not fruit until many years after planting.
Commitment to the promise of the future.
Black Twig
500ml $22
One of our very favorite apples shines in this single varietal cider. A southern Appalachian heritage apple that has been in production since 1830. Sweet, tart and tannic, a perfect balance in a cider apple.  
8-9% abv.
500ml $22
Roxbury Russet is believed to be the first apple cultivated by American settlers. Roxbury is joined by its cousin Golden Russet to create this etherial varietal cider. Smooth, silky, crisp and balanced. 7-8% abv
500ml $22
The Newtown Pippin originated in what is now Manhattan in the early 1700’s. It soon became one of the most widely planted varieties in the colonies and was favored by George Washington. Thomas Jefferson grew so many at Monticello it was renamed the Albemarle Pippin.  Rich, full-flavored varietal cider with a smooth, tannic finish. 7-8% abv
500ml $22
Confluence: a gathering or flowing together. Our Confluence is the merging of two venerable heritage cider apples, Winesap and Mr. Jefferson’s favorite apple Esopus Spitzenburg. Brilliant apple aroma, rounded and complex with silky tannins. 7-8% abv.  

<![CDATA[Feeding the Masses]]>Wed, 12 Jun 2019 20:50:31 GMThttp://willowoakscraftcider.com/dispatches/feeding-the-massesPicture

​Since childhood, I dreamed of raising apples and blueberries – apples owing either to Walt Disney’s lovable though historically inaccurate Johnny Appleseed character or to my latent rebellion at being a minister’s son, given the story of Adam and Eve. Just hearing the theme song from that Disney movie would cause a Pavlovian mouth-watering response from the memory of apple taste. And I loved the pot for a hat!
Blueberries – blueberries were different altogether. My love there was deep, abiding and mysterious, perhaps owing to a combination of their taste, shape, size, smell, and most of all, color.  After all, my favorite things were blue – mountains, sky, ocean, river, lilac, lavender, and my toy car.  I remember smiling the first time I knowingly saw and tasted a blueberry -- and always treasured the location of wild huckleberry bushes on my granddaddy’s farm and the rabbit eye blueberry bushes in the riverbed I found while in graduate school.
My farm plan called for apples and blueberries in abundance even though I had never grown either in my years of gardening before moving to Country Pleasures.  They would become the farm’s anchor crops – the blueberries providing financial stability, the apples pulling the checking account back beneath the surface waters of financial solvency.
The blueberries make for happy farm memories for most of us, save our daughter, Alex, who always dreamed of mowing them down, permanently, with the bushog.  For the rest of us, blueberries mean picking parties of friends with good food, drink and conversation. Blueberries mean high skies, gentle breezes and bright sunshine.  Blueberries mean a smile on my partner Lori’s face, the blueberry queen, as she satisfies her quart-a-day habit.
Blueberries require patience and hard work - several years of planting, feeding, weeding, watering, and waiting precede a first harvest. We ceremoniously planted the first bushes during a visit of the Sodek family from Canada with whom I had planned the blueberry patch; then, my neighbor Kirk and I spent hours acidifying soil, adding even more organic matter, carrying water, weeding, and running from the nasty-dispositioned bees that lived on one end of the field but helped with pollination. So, it was with great anticipation that I awaited the first harvest, three years from planting the original small bushes. 
In late June, the clumps of green berries of my early variety, Blue Jays by name, were sizing (growing larger as they moved toward harvest) and turning bright blue.  Everyday the berry sugar was getting sweeter, the color turning darker, and the aroma growing stronger.  The harvest looked as though it would begin on July 4, so I spent the week leading to the holiday in preparation. With daytime temperatures in the mid-90’s, I prepared for the picking party each morning and retreated inside each noon to work on a report due in mid-July. 
Monday -- I called the 25 folks who had asked to be part of the inaugural picking party and excitedly told each about the weekend events.  Then I planned the rest of my week.
Tuesday -- I cruised the bushes removing any berries that looked like they might contain a berry fruit worm and mowed the grass runways between the ten rows of ripening berries. I also found and cleaned the grill for the anticipated barbeque of Country Pleasures beef and portabella mushrooms. 
Wednesday -- I bought beer and wine for the party, washed the gallon buckets into which I expected folks to pick their berries, and located the old tin washtub that would serve as a drink cooler.  I also assembled and cleaned chairs and tables for folks to sit around.
Thursday -- I cleaned the scale so folks could weigh their bounty, got money from the bank to make change, began making snacks to accompany the libations, and tidied up around the buildings.
 Friday -- I mowed the grass between the 300 plants we were to pick.
I munched a mouthful of plump, sweet, juicy berries as I looked back at the field on my way into the house to write on Friday afternoon.  What a glorious sight -- neat clean rows of green foliage and clumps of blue berries swaying in the breeze!! I could hardly wait till the next day!!!
At dusk on Friday, I walked back to the blueberry field to admire my handiwork and have a bite of blue dessert.  As I approached the bottom of the field, about 50 yards away from the ripe berries, I was puzzled to see the ground appear to move in the top of the field.  It looked almost like a grain field swaying in the wind or sports fans performing a wave in a stadium.  I quickened my pace; as I trotted into the rows, I discovered hundreds – maybe thousands of adolescent robins, starlings, cowbirds and catbirds running along the ground away from me.  I walked among them, moving many with my boots.  Some birds literally ran into me; others fly a few feet before tumbling ungracefully to the ground or becoming tangled in a blueberry bush.  Most ran on the ground, tumbling, rolling and squawking in loud distress. 
I watched in amazement, at the sheer number of birds and because it seemed that they could not fly.  It occurred to me to look at the bushes.  Scarcely a ripe berry remained.  It took 15 bushes to make a handful to eat.  The gluttonous birds had eaten so much that they were too heavy to become airborne!
Accompanied by the raucous jeers of the feathered thieves, I trudged to the house to call the party-comers to cancel the occasion. Then I walked to Mr. Summers’ house, my neighbor and the old farmer from whom I had bought the place.  Dejectedly, I told him the picking party was cancelled -- the birds had eaten the crop in one single afternoon. 
After I told him the story, he said simply, “Well Mr. Rice, at least you will eat well this winter.”  I looked at him in disbelief.  Had he not heard the story I just had finished?  I said, “No Mr. Summers, I have nothing to pick, nothing to freeze; the birds ate almost all the berries!”
He replied inquisitively, “Well, you put them in the freezer didn’t you?”
“Mr. Summers,” I gulped, “Robins are migratory songbirds.  I can’t kill them!”
After looking at me for a moment or two, he shook his head and quietly spoke: “Mr. Rice, the old people (meaning his grandparents who had been dead for at least 50 years) had a saying for this type of situation.  They said, ‘If it eats your dinner, it becomes your supper.’”
​~Eric Rice