Leadership Sacramento Alumni: Farm-to-Fork Day Recap

Peared up for the Day

By: Jennifer Enos

Do you miss your Leadership Sacramento days? Miss getting the inside scoop on what’s new in the Sacramento region and access to the innovators in our region?

Your Leadership Sacramento Alumni committee has you covered. I recently joined fellow Leadership Sacramento Alumni on a half-day class, organized by the committee. The class gained insight on farming in our region, and specifically in the Delta. As always, I was exposed to new ideas and inspired by all the cool things happening in Sacramento. We first met down in Courtland at Hemly Pear Farm. After leaving the manic of the city and I-5, I immediately felt relaxed among the acres of open space. I slowly drove down River Road, thankful that no one was behind me. With the river view on one side and farmland on the other, I couldn’t help but wonder who lives in these adorable small towns, Hood and Courtland.

Turning off River Road and driving through the pear orchard, I arrived to meet my fellow alumni at Hemly’s tasting room (opening in August). Our tour started
with the tasting of Hemly’s pear and apple ciders, crisp, not too sweet and light on the alcohol. It was the perfect summer beverage to start our tour. Sarah Hemly shared with us the history of cider in our country, how she came to the decision to make cider after a 200+ year tradition of growing pears, and how she ultimately learned to make cider.

If you’ve had a pear from the Sacramento region, you’ve likely had a Hemly pear. Sarah loves the fact that they have provided our region with pears for centuries. However, Sarah wanted to do something different, hoping to grow their farm business in a new way.

Sarah’s answer… cider.

Apparently, we have a long history of cider in our country.

I had no idea Johnny Appleseed’s motivation was a buzz from some apple cider, not delicious snacking apples. All those trees he planted…for cider. And who are we kidding, anyone who sports a pot for a hat, must be a drinker. Prohibition killed the cider industry and until now, it hasn’t made it’s way into our mainstream drinking habits. Sarah’s on a mission to change that.


In order to bring back cider making to our local community, Sarah had to learn how to make it. She found the experts in Tasmania of all places. The English drink the most cider and Tasmanian’s are known to be the experts in making it. She spent time there to learn the craft which has similarities to brewing beer or making wine, but not enough she could learn from a local brewer or winemaker. We toured the facility where she was currently making her cherry pear cider. Sarah shared with us the challenges of working with cherries – they turn brown seconds after making contact with oxygen. Brown CherryPerry, not so nice! Sarah is a can do gal, and developed a process of pressing the cherries under CO2 to keep their beautiful cherry color. They have labeled it CherryPerry Wends if you want to pick up a bottle from Food Co-Op, Raley’s or Bev Mo later this summer to try this delicious drink.

After our informative and tasty tour of Hemly Farms, we proceeded to part 2 of the class day. A few miles upstream, we found our way to Heringer Estates Family Vineyard and Winery. Once inside their 150 year old restored barn, amid the cool Delta breeze, we met the assistant winemaker. She shared with us the history of the family and future plans to create a museum specific to farming in that region and an event space.

We were treated to our pick of tastings from their very extensive wine offerings, complemented with a cheese tray. So, yummy! The long list included a few varietals I had not tried before, Nebbiolo, Teroldego and Insieme. My favorite was their Barbara, although it was hard to choose from so many interesting wines. Each year they experiment with new varietals and methods to provide new and delicious wines. The family has several vineyards and until 2000, sold all of their grapes. Even now they only produce wine from just 2% of their grapes and sell the remaining. After our informative discussion with the assistant winemaker, we made our purchases, said our goodbyes and headed back toward the bustling city. I for one, was thankful to be introduced to this beautiful escape so close to Sacramento.

I think we all had a great time, learning something new about the Sacramento region, connecting with our fellow alums and enjoying finding our summer beverage favorite. I’m stocked up! It was just how I remember Leadership Sacramento days – informative, impactful, and fun.

Plans are in the works for the next Leadership Sacrament Alumni mini class in the fall. If you have ideas or want to help, please let us know!