Our Wellfleet oysters (Crassostrea virginica) are grown out and harvested in and from the estuaries of Wellfleet Harbor (N 41.94/W 70.03), located in the Northeastern region of Cape Cod Bay. This specific area of the Cape provides an ideal setting for the oysters.
A bit of history…In the late 1700s and early 1800s, the Wellfleet oyster beds were decimated by a combination of plague and overfishing. In an effort to remedy this situation, forward thinking locals sourced a small quantity of oysters from the Chesapeake Bay area, and placed them in the local estuaries of Wellfleet Harbor as seed stock. As anticipated, the oysters once again flourished in the waters of Cape Cod Bay, and so came the reintroduction of the Wellfleet oyster, and the birth of aquaculture in North America. In recent years, these pristine waters have produced an annual commercial harvest of an estimated 850,000 large choice oysters. This relatively limited availability combined with their exceptional quality has made the Wellfleet oyster one of the most highly sought after and recognizable varieties of oyster anywhere in the world.
So why are the Wellfleet oysters so remarkable? Just like Olympia beer…It’s the water. The waters which flush through Cape Cod Bay are provided courtesy of the Gulf of Maine. This current originates in northern Maine and the Canadian Maritime Provinces, and runs in a counter-clockwise fashion, delivering an unwavering flow of nutrients throughout coastal northern New England. By the time these currents wash over the reaches of the inner Cape they are (by Gulf of Maine standards) relatively warm. The 12 foot tides of Cape Cod Bay play a great part in this. What this means is that where at high-tide there is 12 feet of water, at low tide there is naught. Twice a day, the tides recede over the protected shallows of the hard packed mud and sand flats of the Cape Cod Bay. During this Moondance, the sun’s rays beat down on the flats, warming them. In turn, the tidal influx is heated as it fills the estuaries. The phytoplankton rich Gulf of Maine waters (which have now been brought to the aforementioned level of relative warmth) provide the Wellfleet oysters everything they need to grow-out quite rapidly, and produce an oyster of exceptional consistency.
Wellfleets measure a minimum of three inches in length, and are marked by a medium-high salinity and abright, crisp finish.