Louisville Magazine

SEP 2018

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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bit.ly/nawbo-ky wineontheriverlouisville.com 54 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 9.18 Lamas and other chefs. Hill and Willette purchased their farm in 2001. ough the pair had never operated a farm, they dove in headfirst, buying a herd of five llamas after llama trekking during a trip abroad. In addition to pawpaws, they've started a small orchard of apple and Asian pear trees and have planted around 400 grapevines for future wine production. Hill approaches a sapling and plucks off a long green leaf that wouldn't look out of place on a trendy summer dress. "Just crush that between your hands," he says. It smells like mint but also reminds me of pineapple. "Isn't that nice?" he says. (Interesting fact: Pawpaw leaves are the exclusive diet of exotic zebra swallowtail butterflies.) In April, foul-smelling burgundy flowers open on the pawpaw trees, which are pollinated by flies and beetles. One common trick to attract flies to your pawpaw trees is to hang a deer carcass in the branches, hence the bones mentioned earlier. On this mid-August Friday, the fruit is still small, about the size of a lime and more oblong than round. ese won't be ripe until the beginning of September. "It's so labor-intensive that the margins are really tiny if they're there at all," Hill says. "We kind of look at ourselves as pawpaw ambassadors more than anything else." e pawpaw hands will hang on to the branch until they are ripe, when they will fall to the ground, a sure way to be bruised or eaten by insects. Unlike mangos or avocados, pawpaws remain the same color during the whole harvest season, so only a gentle squeeze can reveal their ripeness. "e fruit that has fallen — their shelf life is probably hours," Willette says. Because pawpaws can't be harvested mechanically, Hill and Willette spend the last few weeks of summer climbing into the trees with produce bags, gently picking entire hands, some weighing up to four pounds. Leaving an almost-ripe hand on the tree is a gamble — raccoons or even dogs may have eaten it by the next day. "Each tree will go through the first pawpaw ripening to the last pawpaw ripening in about a week or two at most," Hill says. "So you've got to be ready when the trees are ready. Otherwise you end up with nothing."

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