Growing Poire Prisonniere
Putting the pear in a bottle

Russ Holmberg takes great care inserting tiny pears inside a bottle and fastening them securely to the tree in June. Frequent maintenance throughout the summer is required to protect the pears as they mature.

Pear growing inside a bottle

The bottles are secured neck-down so rainwater doesn't collect and threaten the growing pear. Successfully growing pears to full-size is part skill, part luck. The end result, however, is pure art.

And how did that pear get inside that bottle? For the past two summers, Holmberg Orchards in Gales Ferry, CT has hosted Westford Hill Distillers' bottles on their Bartlett pear trees. From a distance, these bottles with the growing pears inside appear as if some exotic fruit is hanging from the trees in this orchard.

Russell Holmberg, a fourth generation member of the Holmberg family, manages the project for the distillery. He starts around Memorial Day when the pear blossoms drop their petals leaving tiny, delicate pears. A branch with the pear attached is inserted inside the bottle, and the bottle is gently fastened upside-down from another branch held by twine or tape. With luck and frequent maintenance of the bottles' security, the pears grow to full size inside the bottle over the summer. They're typically harvested in mid to late-August, a bit earlier than most Bartlett pears, so they're still a bit green and firm.

After harvesting the pears, the crew at Westford Hill Distillers scrubs the bottles inside and out with water. The bottles are then filled with Westford Hill Distillers Pear William brandy, corked and finished. The Bartlett pears used to produce this aromatic spirit are sourced by Westford Hill from Lyman Orchards in Middlefield, CT. In development of this project, Westford Hill Distillers has also managed growing these "imprisoned pears" at Lyman Orchards, Charlton Orchards and McClellan Orchards trying various methods to select and protect the pears. For the complete distilling story click here.

The distilling process

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