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Images by Lisetter Wolter-McKinley

Vashon winery Nashi Orchards serves new line of non-alcoholic perry

As a lifelong non-drinker, I am relieved to say gone are the days of the stigma associated with the choice to not drink. These days, there has been a seismic culture shift and a resurgence in the popularity to stay sober. The choice to not drink is a complicated one, everything from medical reasons to not feeling great when you drink, or not being happy with the choices you make after. Regardless of your reasons for turning down alcohol, the wonderful people at Nashi Orchards have created a special option for us non-drinkers.

Nashi Orchards, with 27 acres on Vashon Island, was first established in the late 1970s, when its original owners transplanted the most promising Asian pear varieties from a trial orchard on Maury Island. Nashi Orchards, co-owned by Jim Gerlach and Cheryl Lubbert, was formally established in 2011 and approved as a bonded winery in 2012. Nashi makes hard cider and perry, which is an alcoholic drink made with fermented pears. Their perry is made with Asian pears, rather than the traditional European pear. In fact, "nashi" is another word for Asian pear in New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Korea, among other places.

Nashi has sought to win over the growing number of non-alcoholic beverage drinkers. The inspiration to create a luxurious alcohol-free perry came after they noticed a significant number of visitors to their tasting room gravitate away from alcohol. Whether you want to stay sharp mid-week or not feel guilty about celebrating all of life's little moments—gone are the days of feeling like a child and drinking soda or Martinelli's.

Nashi Orchards recently launched their first non-alcoholic line of beverages, coined the "Hana'' series. The first release is a Korean giant sparkling perry complete with a beautiful label and light crisp taste. At around $12 per bottle, it is inexpensive enough to stock up on and lovely enough to become your go-to host/hostess gift. With no added sugar, no added flavoring, and 100% juice, their non-alcoholic perry checks all the boxes no matter who you are hosting or visiting. And the best part is it can be shipped nationwide.

Nashi Orchards, located just a hop, skip and a jump from Seattle on Vashon Island, is a mere 15-minute ferry ride away. Nashi Orchards is home to a variety of Asian pears, European perry pears, and heirloom apples. The 27-acre farm and forest are home to more than just fruit these days with sheep, dogs, barn cats, and an abundance of birds and other wildlife. The husband-and-wife team, Jim and Cheryl are passionate about supporting their local community by bringing artisan spirits and wine to others. Also new this year, Nashi has expanded its space with a new tasting room, which features stunning artwork and furniture just begging for intimate dinner parties and celebrations. The family-friendly tasting room is open Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. or midweek by appointment.

Many years ago, Jim and Cheryl fell in love with an Asian-inspired home, which came with acres upon acres of pears they did not know what to do with. Luckily for us, "necessity is the mother of invention" and purchasing this property took them down the path of learning just what to do with all those pears. Many harvests later, perry and cider are served up in their purest form as they carefully control fermentation to preserve the natural sweetness.

Summer is the perfect time to grab a bottle and head out for a picnic. However, Fall is a wonderful time to cozy up inside with the ones you love and partake in the abundance which grows around us, both in the ground and on the trees. Hop on a ferry and within minutes you will feel far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Relax as you sip libations while your children frolic outside discovering the best sticks, smoothest rocks, and mild-tempered sheep.

What is next for Nashi, you might ask? In 2021, the couple purchased a 22-acre farm in Oregon's Hood River and turned it into a bed-and-breakfast lodge called Sakura Ridge. Sakura is the Japanese word for "cherry blossom," which grows in abundance on the property. The lodge previously functioned as a B&B for two decades and now Julian Vera, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, will take the reins and continue to serve up mouthwatering breakfasts. With a variety of room styles and views of Mount Hood, the orchard, and the valley, there is a little something for everyone during their stay.

Jim and Cheryl hope to continue to expand their "Hana" series in the future to ensure whatever your choice of drink you have, you'll always have something special in your glass.