Lemons Grow in West Virginia!
A member of the Panorama at the Peak Cast Iron Cook-Off team, Rob Losey contributed not only his Bloomery Plantation Distillery Limoncello for pairing with the dessert course, but offered two of the first ten lemons ever grown successfully in West Virginia. It was so unusual, the judges at the cooking competition were surprised.
Rob’s ex-wife Linda and her partner Tom Kiefer started the distillery after a trip to Italy awakened their appreciation of limoncello. That spark lead them to attempt to replicate, and then surpass the taste experience they had had.
Selecting Santa Theresa lemons because they can grow in the cooler climate of northern Italy, they planted rootstock in their greenhouse and waited. West Virginia state law requires distilleries to use a minimum of 25% of local ingredients. The lemons will be used for producing their amazing limoncello and the fantastic Cremma Lemma, Raspberry Lemoncello and the Lemon Ice. Rows of raspberry bushes planted on the hillside provide the fruit for not only the pairing with the lemons but also the Dark Chocolate Raspberry SweetShine.
Although the lemons grew better than expected up through this winter, brushing the ceiling glass of the greenhouse, a malfunctioning gauge resulted in no heat on a frigid night, and it appeared that the trees had been lost. Trimmed back, almost all are responding well with new growth.
Set-backs like this are not new. As any farmer knows, the weather can play cruel tricks. Last year’s Derecho blew the fruit off the raspberry plants. The deer have also been testing the 10-foot fence that enclosed the vast hillside patch.
Located on 12 acres on the former Willowbrook plantation site just outside of Charles Town. The historic bloomery was actually the earliest iron works west of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The distillery tasting room, upper activity room and the distillery’s working kitchen occupies the former slave quarters of the plantation, with additions from 1880 constructed from the wood of the boats that plied the nearby Shenandoah River, carrying good and people in daytime and rumored to carrying moonshine at night.
The products of Bloomery Plantation Distillery have been winning numerous awards. Professional reviews are also positive. Last summer, in two separate international competitions, Bloomery Plantation Distillery’s products earned eight gold, silver and platinum awards.You can visit the tasting room on weekends and enjoy music most Fridays and Saturdays. Rob has been in charge of marketing and placing the products and they can be found throughout the state.