Musings from the barrel room

Oh my, our orchard trees are hugely confused – 70 degrees on Thursday and snowing on Saturday. True, usually the maple buds begin to look red against the grey of the forest canopy in February, one of the great promises of Spring. But this year, the apricots and peaches also are showing pink in the buds and some of the early pears have stripes of white in the top of green buds! Nooooooo, it is much tooooo early for them, but… Mother Nature is the boss, and we are about to be reminded of that lesson. While freezes often occur in bits and pieces, our diversification usually allows us to avoid major losses. If the apricots freeze, usually the pears are Ok. If the pears freeze, usually the apples are Ok. But this year promises to become both different and even more memorable.  So far, only the blueberries, blackberries, and apples seem to be resisting the temptation to emerge from dormancy. 

We have been bottling in the barrel room!! The new Harley’s Keep, and Juliet now sit in the aging area, bottle conditioning for a few months before making their debut. Usually, it takes about 4-6 months for the cider to settle/mellow in the bottle, and these two ciders promise to be worth the wait. The Harley’s Keep has developed lively caramel and vanilla notes while in the Juliet, the pears have softened, and the sour cherry brightens with juiciness. Now for the patience for it to bottle age a few months, with only an occasional sampling, just for quality control?? 


Seed disease is in full swing. Carrots and potatoes are in the ground. Choi, kale, and chard are emerging from the compost beneath the grow lights, and seed trays are ready for the heirloom tomatoes. We should have plenty of heirloom set plants for folks in April. Meanwhile, we have been transplanting both ever bearing strawberries and fig trees into pots for the Spring season. Next come the lilacs, blueberries, and blackberries. 


The sugar maples and walnuts recognize Spring is coming even if they are a bit confused. We have been tapping the trees to make syrup in March, but the flow is sporadic, stopping if the nights are too warm and the days to hot. Still, we have collected enough to make a couple of gallons and invite you to join us the last two weekends in March for the sugaring off. We will be cooking syrup in one of the parking areas and the tasting room will be open for cider tasting. Bring snacks, settle in, and enjoy an afternoon. You even may be able to reserve a bottle of syrup as it finishes. Please see our website for more details about days and times and check out the pictures of the taps.

Next up, more bottling and completing the pruning as we prepare for the season. More on that in next month’s Musing from the Barrel Room.