Cider on KCTS9: PIE

This week, in honor of Valentine's Day, KCTS9 included a segment on cider as a new twist on Champagne. We agree with their sentiment, "forget opening a bottle of bubbly for Valentine's Day. Artisan hard cider is making a comeback in Washington state." If you missed it, watch the segment here!

Many see cider as a "new" alternative to Champagne – and we're, of course, happy for the interest. Indeed it is relatively a new movement in Washington and the Northwest. But cider's bubbly, corked-bottle format just may indeed have preceded Champagne as we currently know it. James Crowden's book, Ciderland, and James Russell's book, Manmade Eden both explore the history of cider and perry in England. According to historical documents they discovered, the use of coal in English glass manufacturing processes led to the ability to make higher-quality bottles that could bear the pressure from secondary in-bottle fermentation. It was the English cider & perry producers that honed the process of retaining this carbonation through the use of a larger cork, tied in place. From there, French expert Dom Perignon further refined the process for use with bubbly grape wines. In fact, perry enjoyed a heyday in the mid-19th century as England's prized sparkling drink.

We, however, are still trying to find the best place for cider. And so are others in the industry. But really we're probably over-thinking it. It's cider, afterall – it's its own thing. At our tasting room, we serve tastes in tall flutes. But when we sit down to enjoy a glass, lately we've been opting for something with a wider bowl to it, something that can hold the complex aromas, and still displays the color and light bubbles well.

How do you like to drink your cider?


A Snowdrift descends on Portland

This week our ciders are being featured at Bushwacker Cider in Portland. All week long (or until the cider runs out), Cliffbreaks Blend, Orchard Select and Dry will be on tap. Thursday the 31st, come on down at 6:30 to taste through the whole lineup of our bottled ciders, including our méthode Champenoise perry! 


Local Harvest Dinner at Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort

We're very excited about a lot of things we've got cookin' around here, not least of which is being part of the Local Harvest Dinner at Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort this Sunday evening! 

Chef Ken MacDonald is an amazing chef who is proud to produce delicious eats from local sources – organic fruit & veg from the valley and Sleeping Lady's own garden, meats from the best producers in our region, etc. etc. This Sunday we will be on the menu as well, as our cider is braising pork and will be paired with a delicious menu.

Don't miss this event, it'll be a wonderful evening with good company at an amazing location!


Washington Cider Week!

Mark you calendars for Washington Cider Week! As the cider industry booms in the northwest (and really around the world), cider makers, pubs, restaurants and chefs will be supporting the noble apple with new recipes, cider pairings, classes, flights and a whole host of other features. Events are starting to come together, so watch the event page or our own Facebook page to keep abreast of happenings in your area. 

September is one of the most beautiful times of year all across Washington, so you could even organize your own event and do a rolling cidery tour through the state. Apple harvest should just be getting underway by then and the tops of the cascades are usually starting to show their gorgeous fall colors.


Even the English like our ciders

This spring we thought we'd submit our ciders to a competition in England, to see if we could get some feedback of judges from a different market, palate and history. We chose the Three Counties Show, where the Three Counties Cider & Perry Association puts on an international cider & perry competition each year, and exists for the purpose of improving the quality of cider & perry in England. Since shipping to England is expensive (we dropped $300) we picked just three of our products, Cidermaker's Reserve, Perry Reserve, and Cliffbreaks Blend, as they stood out to us as having the most distinctive characteristics of cider apples and perry pears.

Well, we ended up getting more than just feedback – we actually won medals … two golds and a silver at that! Cidermaker’s Reserve and Perry Reserve, both crafted in the méthode Champenoise, placed first in each of their categories (bottle-fermented cider and bottle-fermented perry, respectively), and Cliffbreaks Blend placed second in the medium-sweet cider category.

The champagne method is new territory for us this year, and so is perry for that matter, but we had some really outstanding flavors come out of the last couple harvests and we wanted to do something extra special to highlight their character. Méthode Champenoise takes a lot more work, but the in-bottle fermentation process helps retain some of the more delicate aromas as well as imparting a smooth, honey-like character. It’s really encouraging to see the extra work pay off with the English judges’ approval!