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Award-winnning Vashon Island perry now comes alcohol-free

This year Nashi Orchards released its first line of alcohol-free perry. #k5evening

VASHON, Wash. — These are not your average pears! More than 400 trees dot the land surrounding Nashi Orchards on Vashon Island.

"Nashi means pear in Japanese," says Cheryl Lubbert, co-founder of the orchard along with husband and master perry-maker Jim Gerlach.

And yes, it is called "perry," not cider.

"If you're making alcoholic beverage from pear juice, it's called perry. Very traditional in England, France. And a little bit in Austria," Gerlach said.

Lubbert said people often mistake perry for cider, which comes from apples.

"Perries aren't that common or popular in the United States yet. In fact, when I did my first festival about five years ago, people thought, 'Gosh, perry. That's real cute. Did you make that up? That's so clever!' Actually no. It's been around for hundreds of years," Lubbert said.

They turn their 15 varieties of Asian pears into a refreshing bubbly beverage.

"Not something that's sweet. It's something dry and crisp, sort of like a wine but a little lower alcohol," said Lubbert.

And if your drink of choice is something alcohol-free, don't worry. Nashi Orchards recently came out with a sober line of sparkling perry, called the "Hana" series that retails for $12 a bottle. It's made from 100% pear juice with no added flavoring and works great as a wine alternative.

This organic farm happened organically.

"We loved the house when we moved here. And it came with a big, old orchard. Our trees are about 40, 45 years old. We didn't realize we were gonna get about 8 tons of fruit," said Lubbert.

About five years in, they have to borrow from other orchards to meet the demand.

"We were one of the first people and one of the few people who actually make Asian pear perry...in the world probably," said Lubbert.

They don't add sugar. The hint of sweetness happens naturally...kinda like the whole place did.

"We both love to eat and drink great things," said Gerlach.

Nashi Orchards | 16906 107th Ave SW, Vashon, WA 98070 | Open weekends from noon to 5 p.m. year-round for tours and tastings.

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