With storybook snowflakes blanketing the orchard, we exhale. The record-breaking crop of 2016 is complete. The only apples left are the ones that were left behind – not enough color, some unmarketable blemish, under or over sized. These are gifts to the birds and other orchard wildlife over the winter, and a beautiful splash of Christmas-bauble color on the otherwise naked trees.
Bins are emptied, cleaned, and stacked to wait patiently for the next season. Apple trees are dormant, securing their precious chill hours required for good fruit set next spring. Dave is pruning, endlessly, seven days a week save these precious hours that dip below -10°C where bookwork and other errands are caught up. Early winter nights are another saving grace for the farmer.
In the cidery, thousands of litres of cider waits. Sitting quiet, but not inactive. The magic of time and chemistry softens harsh tannins, mellows puckering acidity, and develops character and aromatics hidden when the cider is young. Bottling will start full-force in a few weeks but until then I’m enjoying the quieter hours that allow for planning and dreaming the season ahead.