From the founding of Jamestown to the time of Washington and Jefferson, every plantation owner made cider, drank cider, and bragged about his cider.
ESOPUS SPITZENBURG originated in Esopus, Ulster County, New York, in the latter part of the 18th century and has the reputation as a favorite dessert apple of Thomas Jefferson. He ordered 12 trees of the variety from William Prince's Flushing, Long Island, Nursery in 1790 to plant at Monticello. "Spitz" is likely one of the parents of the Jonathan and is classified in the Baldwin apple group. It is a large apple, oblong in shape, smooth-skinned and colored a lively, brilliant red, approaching scarlet. It is covered with small yellow specks. In hot and humid regions, the color is not as pronounced. The yellow flesh is rich, juicy, and sprightly, and in taste tests, it usually ranks very high. A shy bearer on slender, willowy limbs, this biennial bearer needs a pollinator. The upright growing tree is moderate in vigor with olive-colored bark, and the dull leaves are folded with irregular shallow serrations. The branches have wide crotch angles and are long and drooping. It is susceptible to fireblight, and if left on the tree too long, it will develop a condition called Jonathan Spot, which are brown skin-deep marks that detract from its appearance. Scab, canker and collar rot are also problems of this classic dessert fruit. It ripens over a few weeks in late September and early October.
- Early Fall - September
- Mid Fall - October