Wassailing with Golden State Cider

Feb 24, 2017

Interview with Jolie Devoto-Wade, Co-Owner and Director of Communications

Photos of the Wassail at Devoto Orchards for Golden State Cider

 What is the history/origin of a Wassail?

The tradition of wassailing falls into two distinct categories: house-visiting, where wassailers go and spread good cheer and sing to their neighbors, and orchard-visiting wassail, which is what we’re talking about. There is evidence of orchard wassailing in England dating back to as early as the sixteenth century, however, the word comes originally from old Norse ‘vesheil’ which means ‘be healthy’. Wassailing is an ancient ceremony dating back to the time of the druids, and traditionally performed on the pagan new year, January 17th, to help scare the evil spirits out of the orchard and to awaken the tree spirits during their winter slumber. The word ‘Wassail’ refers to both the ceremony and the hot mulled cider that is brewed specifically for the ceremony. The tradition of ‘toasting’ comes from wassail, where a piece of toast is soaked in the wassail brew and offered to the tree to help ensure a good crop for the following year. In many celebrations, colorful garments and hats are worn to evoke the quirky spirit of the orchard.


When was the first Devoto Orchards Wassail? 

2013, the winter following our first cider harvest.

Has (or how) the event changed over the years?

We’ve dialed in our wassail brew recipe over the years, and added more to the ceremony.

Favorite memory from past Wassails?

The energy of 100 people setting an intention to bless the apple trees and yell “Wassail! Health to the old apple tree!” while drinking brew from that very orchard. That definitely scares all the bad ju-ju out of the orchard.

Here is our Wassail recipe


  • 2 gallons Gravenstein apple juice, or tart apple juice
  • 1-2 cans Mighty Dry Cider
  • quality bourbon
  • 2 sliced oranges
  • handful dried apples
  • handful of dried hops
  • slices of fresh ginger
  • 1 cup raisins or black currants
  • all spice, cinnamon, peppercorns, anise, juniper berries

Heat all liquid ingredients (except bourbon) in large pot and add fruit and spices. Simmer on low for about an hour, until all ingredients are melded together. Add bourbon to your liking.


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