Located on Vashon Island, Nashi Orchards was founded in 2011 by Jim Gerlach and Cheryl Lubbert. Since buying the 27-acre property over a decade ago, the couple have worked to steward the land in an environmentally and socially responsible way designed to give back to their local ecosystem and community. Installing solar panels has allowed them to sell additional electricity back to the grid, and they use a holistic, biodynamic approach to managing their orchards. Two years ago, Jim and Cheryl founded the Vashon Island Cider Collaborative with the vision of creating a yearly cider made entirely from apples donated by the community whose proceeds benefit a local non-profit. As a part of this effort, the leftover apple matter from the pressing (called “pommace”) feed livestock during the winter, which helps to prevent the over-wintering of pests.
Nashi Orchards is known for using Asian pears to make perry, rather than the traditional European pear. In fact, “nashi” is another word for Asian pear. Visit for tours and tastings year round on Saturdays 12 – 5 pm or May – October Saturday and Sunday 12 – 5 pm. Weekday tours can be made by appointment.
Ciders at 2015 City Fruit Cider Taste:
Chojuro Asian Pear Perry – made from several different varieties of Asian pear and features a rummy, butterscotch flavor.
Issho Ni Cider
Taste these ciders and more at City Fruit’s 5th Annual Cider Taste Fundraiser on November 12th at the Pike Place Atrium! Buy tickets here.
Cheryl Lubbert and Jim Gerlach take sustainability seriously. Very seriously. Since purchasing the 27-acre Nashi Orchards and Farm on Vashon Island ten years ago, they’ve set out to become responsible stewards not just for their own land, but for the entire island. Installing solar panels allowed them to move away from oil and go completely electric, selling additional electricity back to the grid. Each winter when the trees go dormant, a flock of St. Croix sheep takes to the orchards to eat any lingering fruit, increasing soil nutrient levels and reducing over-wintering pests that affect the whole island. Pomace, or the solid remains of fruit once it’s been pressed, is distributed to other island farms to feed local livestock. All this helps ensure that the surrounding ecosystem of forest and streams, neighboring properties, and even Puget Sound itself, reap the benefits.
This makes perfect sense when you talk to Jim Gerlach, who along with his wife Cheryl has set out to make the Nashi Orchards experience all about the place itself. “Part of what we really enjoy is being able to share what we do with other people,” he told City Fruit. “We have orchard tours to show folks around the operation. It’s one of the things we really like about what we’re doing.”
The orchards contain mostly Asian pear (also known as “nashi”) trees transplanted decades ago from a trial orchard on Maury Island (on the eastern side of Vashon Island) by Pete Svinth, known locally as “Farmer Pete”, an expert fruit tree hybridizer now living in Olympia. Nashi Orchards is one of the few cideries that uses Asian pears to make its Perry. One such varietal is “Chojuro,” made of several kinds of Asian pears and featuring a rummy, butterscotch flavor. Another, the “Island Harvest Blend,” contains Shinsseiki Asian, perry, and seedling pears, and boasts a more fruit forward taste. They also make hard cider, and this year started the Vashon Island Cider Collaborative, an effort to craft a unique hard cider exclusively from Vashon Island apples donated by community members who then vote for a specific Vashon nonprofit to receive a portion of the proceeds.
Like its island neighbor Dragon’s Head, Nashi Orchards will be celebrating Vashon Island Cider Fest this weekend, including an orchard tour at 1pm tomorrow (if you’re lucky, you might spot Cheryl and Jim’s two Bouvier de Flanders, Gunther and Franz, chasing crows and ravens out of the orchards). City Fruit is excited to have Nashi participate in our 4th Annual Hard Cider Taste fundraiser at the Palace Ballroom on November 6th. Come and experience the crisp, clean taste of Nashi Orchards Perry!