gardens—and put them in mason jars and kegs of hot wort. That evening, a particularly windy night, we also left a batch of wort outside in a shallow pot overnight to capture wild yeast from the air. Over the next few months, Jason has been brewing small test batches and propping up yeast samples, working to develop what will become the basis of our initial signature Skagit culture. A few weeks ago, we put the yeast to its first real test. We went with our Lead Agriculturalist Saul Phillips to the cherry orchard at Washington State University’s Skagit agricultural extension and picked 50 or so pounds of cherries that Saul selected (mostly NY242, a slightly tart experi- mental variety). We pressed the cherries, pitched some of our favorite yeast cultures from Jason’s samples, and let the juice and must ferment. Af- ter primary fermentation, we racked our cherry wine off the fruit, which we then used, along with the yeast sediment, to start a batch of low-gravi- ty second-use cherry mead. And I’m so proud of what we’ve made. The wine is Pressed Cherry Wine complex, slightly tart, slightly funky, and, despite being the most cherry-intense liquid I’ve ever tasted, incredibly easy to drink. The mead is gen- tle, with a clear honey and cherry character, but with that same yeast complexity. Both are very small batches, too small to release—even if we legally could—but if these are indicative of what we can make, I continue to be very excited about the future. This is why we’re willing to take a temporary de- tour on our site. We want to make world-class beer, wine, cider, and mead, and we want peo- ple to be able to drink it. It’s disheartening that they won’t be able to do so under a pavilion on a picturesque Washington farm right away, but we know that will come in time. This is a way to achieve at least part of the goal sooner rather than later. In the meantime, we’re following our own garden path, which, as we should have pre- dicted, isn’t always taking us exactly where we’d anticipated. However, we’re pretty sure it’s lead- ing us somewhere special. Via the scenic route. Skagit Cherries © Hundred-to-One LLC 2017. All rights reserved.