Rachel V. Berry
Cider Tasting Just a Drive Away
Fall and apple cider are almost synonymous. In fact, this year’s annual Cider Swig in Gig Harbor saw 24 Northwest cider makers offering over 90 ciders to the public, ranging from applejack to pear nectar. Surprised by the variety? It’s just one indicator of the rapid national growth of the cider industry.
If you missed the Cider Swig, you can still experience the pleasures of handcrafted cider on a short day trip. Hop in the car and head north toward Port Townsend to begin the Olympic Peninsula Cider Route, where you’ll find three cideries—Alpenfire, Eaglemount Wine and Cider and Finnriver Farm and Cidery—that offer different tasting experiences. All are open on Saturdays and Sundays (Finnriver is open daily).
Finnriver Farm & Cidery
124 Center Road, Chimacum
Open daily, 12 to 6 p.m.
Begin your tour at Finnriver, an 80-acre organic farm and orchard. While not the oldest cidery on the peninsula, it was one of the first to capitalize on increased consumer interest in a fruit-based alcoholic beverage other than wine. In 2012, Finnriver expanded its operation to include the historic Chimacum Dairy Farm, which now houses an expanded tasting room, an event space, food vendors on weekends (such as Hama Hama Oysters), live music and more.
It charges a $5 tasting fee for a flight of ciders that range from the traditional to the seasonal. A few examples of its products: Farmstead Cider, Pear Cider, Black Currant Sparkling Cider and Lavender Black Currant Cider. Finnriver also offers brandy- and port-style wines distilled from a variety of fruits.
Eaglemount Wine and Cider
1893 S Jacob Miller Road, Port Townsend
Friday-Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m.
The next stop on the tour is Eaglemount, a 20-year veteran of making ciders and wines. Eaglemount was established on land that was one of the original homesteads in the area (1883); it still had surviving antique apple varieties such as winter banana, winesap and Gravenstein in its orchard. This gave the Davis family a head start toward the business of creating ciders and meads from heirloom varieties of fruit, sourced from the farm’s orchard and other homestead orchards in the area. All fruit is certified organic and sustainably grown.
The tasting room is located adjacent to the historic Arcadia Inn, being restored to its original purpose as a hostelry after serving as a private residence, boarding house, vaudeville circus base camp and brothel/speakeasy in its 100 plus year history. Rooms are currently available via AirB&B.
The tasting fee is $7 per person. In addition to its original recipe for Ginger Cider, a few other offerings include Perry (pear), Cyser (sparkling) and Rhubarb (surprisingly popular).
Before you head to the third and final stop, be sure to call ahead. Alpenfire is well worth a visit, but it is revamping its operation and the line of ciders it offers. Some of the new products have been appearing at special events throughout the summer and the tasting room is generally open Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
220 Pocket Lane, Port Townsend
Saturday and Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m.
Alpenfire takes its back-to-nature mission seriously. All of its cider is made from organically certified fruit that is picked right there or in nearby orchards. The Alpenfire orchard is comprised of 800 trees, with more than 10 varieties of apples specifically grown for cider, capitalizing on the tannins and bitters not found in dessert apples. As an added bonus, the grounds are operated as a wildlife sanctuary; no pets allowed.
There is a $7 per person tasting fee. Pirates Plank is one of its award-winning ciders. Two that made their appearance at this year’s Seattle Cider Summit were Apple Pear Quince and Royal Pomme.
For more information, go to:
The Olympic Peninsula Cider Route: www.opciderroute.com
Washington State Department of Transportation: www.wsdot.com/traffic/hoodcanal/