When Tim Calvert of Pacific Grove Ciderworks filled his first French oak barrels of pear port in 2016, he had no idea how it would lift his spirits four years later. A blend of Ciderworks’ hard pear cider (also called perry) and custom-distilled pear brandy, the port – dubbed and trademarked “Brandiperra” by Calvert and his wife Christy Monson – may be the only commercially available pear port in the world. There’s the familiar port, which is a blend of partially fermented grape wine and brandy, and pommeau, a French aperitif of apple cider and apple brandy, but nothing made from pears – until now.
Calvert made Brandiperra in a 1,500-square-foot space inside a P.G. industrial park, with cool temperatures and low humidity ideal for the aging process. As the 2016 pear port developed its flavors, Calvert busied himself making more in 2017, as well as the perry, along with a sparkling version of perry and a hard apple cider.
The plan was to open a tasting room in 2020, but then the pandemic hit. “Like a lot of businesses we had a mountain of money going out and nothing coming in,” Calvert says. But good news buoyed him in November, when his entry in the U.S. Open Cider Championships, the 2016 Brandiperra, won the Gold Medal. The tasting room finally opened about two months ago.
One sip and it’s no wonder this mellow, dark golden aperitif wowed judges. It’s not too sweet like some wine ports. Calvert adds no extra sugars; he lets the pears speak for themselves.
PACIFIC GROVE CIDERWORKS, 2050 Sunset Drive. Noon-5pm Saturdays, some Sundays noon-4pm, or by appointment. pgciderworks.com