A pretty amazing thing happened to Timo and me this fall…we became the proud owners of four whole sloe berries grown in pots at our house in Sebastopol!
It seems like a million years ago, actually 12, that Timo and I were living in San Francisco working at environmental non-profits and dreaming of setting up a distillery someday. Since that dream began, we have always known we wanted to bring a traditionally made Sloe Gin to the U.S. market. To us, the first logical step was to get hold of some Blackthorn bushes (the bush that produces sloe berries). After a whole lot of searching, we were lucky enough to find a farm that could sell us 12 organic Blackthorn bush starts. They arrived, and with my parents help, we planted them all into what seemed like huge pots at the time! It was only then, with some further research, we found out a particularly intriguing fact about these bushes. They take a very long time to develop and produce fruit (some said up to 10 years!). Now, it’s not like we were planning on this being our only source of sloe berries, but we certainly thought we could add a few from our plants to each batch of our Sloe Gin for fun!
These awesome little plants lived with us for a few years in our tiny yard in Potrero Hill until we ended up moving to Sebastopol and bringing them with us. Once we moved up to Sonoma County we put them in the sun and sprinkled them to keep them happy while we waited…for another 7 years! To be fair, the plants did start producing beautiful little plum-like white flowers each spring, but alas there was no fruit to follow.
Until…this year we noticed a few little ball-like things on some of the plants during the summer and then in Mid-September a few of our Blackthorn bushes actually produced sloe berries! Real, whole, purple, tart and astringent sloe berries – just how we like them! These four little berries may not have been a big harvest, but this does not dissuade our excitement for making that delicious Sloe Gin by hand, with love. Stay tuned for next year to learn how many sloe berries our Blackthorn bushes create.