Delta Breezes and Sparkling Pear Juice
The Sacramento area is known for its blistering heat, but it is also known for its Delta breezes. Although Sacramento is inland from the coast, we are surrounded by water. The California Delta is an expansive inland river delta and estuary ranging from the western edge of the Central Valley by the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and is just east of Suisun Bay, where the rivers enter. With this water system comes flooding. Levees were built and land was claimed and inhabited. Back in 1850, one particular settler, Josiah Greene chose a path other than gold and decided to give agriculture a try. The crop that proliferated in the region along the river happens to be pears. It turns out that pears are one crop that can handle the periodic flooding from the Delta. Now, six generations later, family owned Greene and Hemly is the largest pear grower in California. If you have ever eaten a pear anywhere in this country, it most likely came from their farm.
Sarah Hemly is the first in the family to create a by-product from this fruit. She is the owner and founder of Hemly Cider. She knew she wanted to make cider with pears and apples, which they also grow, but had no idea how. She began studying and researching and that led her to traveling the world and learning from some badass cider pros in Tasmania who are also famous for their whisky. Clearly after the many blasts in the face of pear pulp from pressing the fruit, and all the research, it has paid off because Sarah’s ciders and sparkling pear juices are perfection.
We feature her Sparkling Pear Juice in our September Farm to Fork in a Box because it is a pear in a bottle, with a little bubbles. That’s it. Nothing weird has been added, just excellent fermentation. It turns out making cider is just as complicated as making wine or beer, and it’s made in a very similar way. Fruit is crushed, then fermented, then aged in oak. Sounds simple, but there is a lot of scienc-y stuff that happens along the way. You can find out for yourself by visiting their brand new, and completely cool, tasting room nestled among the pear orchards along the Delta in Courtland, California. They are not currently open, due to Covid-19, but when they do open they will have not only cider tasting but food and music as well. It’s a lovely place to just hang out in an adirondack chair and sip one of her delicious beverages among the ancient fruit trees.
I actually am not a fan of soda or sweet beverages at all. But this Sparkling Pear Juice is light and not overly sweet, and tastes like a perfectly ripe pear...and the bubbles! They are perfect. It’s really good poured over ice, but why stop there. It pairs well with gin and a sprig of rosemary for an easy late summer cocktail. You can also make a pear float and add a scoop of vanilla ice cream to your glass. Yum!