Cider is one of our absolute favorite things to celebrate. Few things scream "fall" more than a jolly pint of hard cider (or, if you're under 21, a hot mug of spiced apple cider). This is one of the main reasons we can't wait for our upcoming event, City Fruit Celebrates -- and if you're as enthusiastic as we are, you'll want to get your tickets soon, and get ready for an evening of sips from these 10 awesome cideries!
Alpenfire was one of the first orchard-based ciders in the Northwest. They started planting a European cider varietal in 2003, and became the very first cidery to be certified organic. Alpenfire is now celebrating a new decade of cider making with the release of their 2006 vintage!
They have been working hard to get new labels, website, aesthetic, and most importantly new cider styles ready for the coming months.
"We look forward to sharing at least some of them with you at the upcoming City Fruit Celebrates event!" says Nancy Bishop of Alpenfire Cider.
Alpenfire is one of the cideries that has been a part of City Fruit's annual event from the get-go. "Seven years ago we were invited to participate in City Fruit's first cider tasting fundraiser," says Nancy. "We were inspired and impressed by the goals and the enthusiasm of the people running this organization. It has become one event we look forward to every year and wouldn't think of missing."
Nancy adds, "As it has grown to include an association with local chefs, it has become an fantastic educational opportunity to showcase how well cider goes with food. This is a rare opportunity to have dishes created exclusively for the purpose of pairing with cider by some of Seattle's top chefs! We love it and we love supporting it any way we can."
Alpenfire's tasting room is open every Saturday and Sunday from noon till 5pm through December 3rd and will re-open again in the Spring of 2018.
Dragon's Head Cider
Like Alpenfire, Dragon's Head also sources from their own orchard -- containing more than 3,000 fruit trees and over 75 varieties of traditional English and French cider apples. Their award winning ciders are made with a traditional approach. A tried and true beverage, with a tried and true process -- no apple juice concentrate, sweeteners, or additional flavors. Dragon's Head says: "We love the story that apples and pears can tell all by themselves. And so we keep it simple. Press high quality fruit, ferment the juice, put it in a bottle. We believe one of the keys to creating great cider is to have control over the entire process. For this reason, we do the pressing, fermentation, blending and bottling all right here on the farm."
Dragon's Head Farm, on Vashon Island, is named for the dragon who guards the apples of immortality in the Garden of Hesperides.
Another partner in City Fruit's annual event since the very beginning -- Finnriver Farm & Cidery is a certified B Corp, and certified awesome! Founded in 2008, by partners Eric Jorgensen and Keith and Crystie Kisler, Finnriver Cidery is at the forefront of the Pacific Northwest hard cider revival. This Washington staple is driven by the mission to inspire a deeper connection to the land that sustains us.
Today, Finnriver crafts a range of traditional, contemporary and seasonal ciders made mostly from local Washington fruit, along with a slew of spirited fruit wines. Most of their products come from an organic orchard of traditional cider apples, located on a historic former dairy that has been renovated to establish Finnriver's organic farm and apple orchard, a working farm collaborative, public tasting room, and a farm-based community gathering place for people of all ages.
Their tasting room is open seven days a week, and well worth a drive out on the scenic Olympic Peninsula!
Locust Cider joins us this year for City Fruit Celebrates -- and we can't wait to sample their cider!
Jason Spears, Founder of Locus Cider, says: "Our delicious ciders begin with great fruit. We primarily use “cull” apples -- those that are not pretty enough or are too small or large to make it to grocery stores -- diverting them from destruction because their juice is still great! Our unique process then transforms the apples into great cider through methodical yeast selection, meticulous temperature control, slow aging, and creative and deliberate blending."
Locust Cider has a speacial cause close to its heart: hydrocephalus. Hydrocephalus is a condition that causes fluids to build up in the brain, and can only be treated with brain surgery. The cause is personal for Founder, Jason Spears -- his two-year-old daughter, Lucy, was diagnosed with the condition and has already undergone four brain surgeries in her lifetime. A portion of sales from Locust's Hootenanny series (Chili Pineapple and Thai Ginger) go to support the Hydrocephalus Association. You can also join their Cider Club, which comes with an immediate $25 donation to the Association.
Neighboring Dragon's Head on Vashon Island, Nashi Orchards produces cider and perry (a pear-based cousin), sourcing fruit from their 27 acres of estate orchards. Nashi uses sustainable and salmon-safe practices while growing Asian and European Pears and heirloom apples for their perry and hard cider.
Jim Gerlach, Nashi Orchards Owner and Perrymaker, says: "We work very hard to manage our soil and the condition of our trees to ensure the flavor from our fruit is in every bottle." Nashi's libations have won a handful of awards, including a Silver Medal at the 2015 Pacific Northwest Cider Awards (for their Chojuro Asian Pear Perry) and a Gold Medal at the 2016 GLINTCAP Awards (for their barrel-fermented cider).
The picturesque orchard, garden and tasting room are open for visits on Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5pm. Nashi says: "We love to share our passion for making perry and hard cider from our Orchards. Please come to the orchard and cidery to see first hand what makes our fruit and perry so special. We are always happy to provide tours and tastings. You are can also just relax in our new pavilion or gardens with a chilled glass of Perry or Cider."
Schilling Hard Cider was founded by master cider-maker Colin Schilling in 2012. Colin began making cider at the crisp young age of 14 on his family’s Idaho farm, and comes from a tradition of cider making since the 1970s. Core to the company’s values are its focus on innovative, bold flavors with social impact.
Schilling Cider has lately been busy working on a new partnership, and a budding relationship with Seattleite's other beverage of choice: coffee. Schilling has begun running a cold brew company called Street Bean Coffee. "Every can purchased translates to 10 minutes of paid training for street-influenced youth through a partnership with New Horizons and Street Bean Coffee Roasters." Schilling says, “Homelessness is a very real issue, and something both Schilling Cider and Street Bean Coffee Roasters are committed to actively combating. Street Bean Coffee Roasters has a strong mission and fantastic education program for its apprentices; combine that with our manufacturing and distribution experience, and it’s a recipe for success and real change.”
Seattle Cider Company
City Fruit and Seattle Cider Company have been partnering for the past two years to make City Fruit Cider -- a creative (and delicious) outlet for city apples that are too bruised, buggy, or just too tart to make good eating at the food banks.
This unlikely cider innovation speaks to Seattle Cider Company's values of collaboration and inclusive community development, as well as boldness -- trying something new. Bobby Naughton, Lead Cider Maker at Seattle Cider, (and Master Fruit Tree Steward) says: "I think City Fruit Cider is the coolest concept for a cider in the country, and I am incredibly happy and proud to be one of the people making it. The idea of making something so localized while diverting so much waste (literally tons and tons of it) is fantastic, but then have to have it come out tasting SO GOOD. Ah, I love it."
City Fruit Cider isn't the only thing to love about Seattle Cider Company -- their beautifully-crafted beverages seek to break the mold of overly sweet ciders, and bring the natural flavor of Washington apples to the forefront.
Stop by The Woods tasting room in SoDo to see for yourself -- bring your dog, and enjoy a game of pool or shuffleboard!
Snowdrift Cider Company
Snowdrift Cider is one of the OG's -- having participated in City Fruit's annual event since year one. The Snowdrift orchard is set against a dramatic backdrop of basalt cliffs in sunny East Wenatchee, and all of their ciders begin with ripe tree fruit that is carefully crushed and fermented.
Tim Larsen, Owner and Cidermaker at Snowdrift, says: "Biodiversity and sustainable agriculture are very important to us. Making real cider, from traditional cider apples, that we are proud to offer to customers is a critical part of our DNA. We offer a taste of real cider made from traditional cider apples from our orchards. ... Believe me when I say we are firm proponents of healthy business, but we value healthy communities and healthy people more, and do everything we can to educate consumers on the value small farms bring to the products we all consume."
Tim adds: "Cidermaking has always been about sustainable agriculture for us, so the synergy between the work [City Fruit does] and the education we are always trying to do with customers seems natural and like a perfect fit."
Tieton Cider Works
This awesome cidery has also been a part of City Fruit's annual fundraiser from the beginning. Tieton Cider Works is arguably an anchor business of the vibrant community of artists and artisans near Tieton, Washington. Its apples are sourced from nearby Harmony Orchards, owned by Craig and Sharon Campbell. The Campbells comment: "This land has been in our family since the 1920’s when our grandfather planted his first trees in Tieton, Washington. We take our stewardship of the land seriously and have been farming organically for the last 25 years."
This orchard provides Craig and Sharon with an end-to-end cider-making process starting with the planting and nurturing of cider trees. Tieton now grows eight apple varieties commercially, producing eleven different ciders plus special seasonal releases.
Woodinville Ciderworks was established in 2014, and is already making waves. Their Apricot Hop Cider placed second in the 2015 Northwest Brewing News Hop Cider Competition, boasting a fruity start and a hoppy finish.
Tasting pours by Co-Owner Leroy Radford can be found in Woodinville at his Flying Dreams Winery. The tasting room is open Saturday and Sunday 1-5pm or by appointment. Woodville Ciderworks is also available at many local brew shops. Their passion for creating high quality, small batch hard ciders is a natural extention of a love for winemaking.
Keep an eye out for Woodinville Cider beverages at the likes of Fremont Brewery, Flatstick Pub, Chuck's Hop Shop, and Fado Irish Pub. Or stop by their tasting room to fill up a growler!
We look forward to seeing all these dynamic, inspirational cideries at our event on November 9th. If you haven't already, grab you tickets now -- and get ready to raise a glass!