The Glass Orchard Is Exactly What It Sounds Like
Nestled on the south side of Eau Claire on four acres of land is The Glass Orchard. Owners Jon Chapman and Dawn Passineau bought the property in 2017 with plans to open a glass studio. They both have an arts background and have been blowing glass for years. When they decided to test the waters with an apple orchard, they combined both what they knew with their art and what they had to learn about growing apples to bring the Chippewa Valley a unique twist on a fall tradition by offering an education in both the arts and agriculture.
Dawn and Jon manage and harvest 10 varieties of apples, which includes Honeycrisp, State Fair, Zestar!, Cortland and Connell Red, just to name a few. The apples have already made the rounds in Eau Claire, with Just Local Food Co-Op featuring them, and they can also be found in some spots on the Mayo Clinic campus. While some of the apples are available publicly, people are highly encouraged to make a trip out to the orchard to pick apples from the couple’s trees themselves. Dawn and Jon will introduce two new varieties of apples in approximately three years with the addition of 200 trees they planted this spring.
When the orchard opens this fall, Dawn and Jon will introduce something brand new: wines made from their very own apples. Those who visit the orchard will be able to taste the two wines, and they may not be able to pick a favorite (they’re both good!). One wine, called “Gather” is a simple apple cider fruit wine while the second, “Gather Spiced” is a spiced apple cider fruit wine infused with natural orange, cinnamon, clove and ginger flavors. Taste testers will be able to smell all the flavors of that wine before even taking a sip – it’s also the favorite of the duo for this writer.
While visitors will be educated about how to grow apples and the different varieties they have to pick from at The Glass Orchard, they will also learn about Dawn and Jon’s main passion: glass blowing. The couple are excited to bring their passion for the art to the Chippewa Valley and will make glass blowing classes available during the fall season. A single person can sign up for 30 minute classes with one-on-one instruction, or groups can sign up for back-to-back sessions.
Demonstrations will be held on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-2pm throughout the season. People should make sure to check out the studio after picking their apples to see and learn how beautiful glass creations are made, and also try their hand at making something of their own. The studio is open year-round for all ages and experience levels.
A retail store will also be open that will offer shoppers orchard products and seasonal gifts. The orchard will open for the season on Sept. 6 from 10am to 6pm Friday through Sunday through the winter holidays.
The Glass Orchard is located at 130 Deerfield Road in Eau Claire and Dawn and Jon can be reached at (715) 252-0720 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.