Review of Cideries on the Washington Peninsula

September 2, 2010

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went up to the Olympic Peninsula, stopping off in Port Townsend to visit the three cideries there. All of them have excellent cider and different varieties, so I’m going to talk more about my experience at their facilities and what I observed about their business style.

The first one we went to was Eaglemount Wine & Cider. They have a large, somewhat untamed property that they have homesteaded on, on which you drive down a narrow gravel road to get to the tasting room. I liked the wood theme they had going on with their tasting room, but felt that the tasting counter was in the wrong spot in relationship to the door as it was on the same wall. Then again, maybe that helps prevent shoplifting? They did not sell just cider, as they also had wine, which probably helps draw more people in since cider is so unknown. Their cider was also the most expensive of the three locations.

Just a few miles away is Finnriver. They are definately a different business model than any other cidery I have been to, as it was more like a farming co-op in which multiple people farmed the land, and the cider was what I keep hearing as “value added,” in which the cider is worth more than the raw apples would have been. They encouraged us to look around the property, and gave us a short tour of their cider house. Finnriver is unique in that they are performing méthode champenoise on their cider, that is to say, they are making naturally sparkling cider instead of artificially carbonating it, a process that is time consuming and actually dangerous as the bottles can break in your hands while working on them. This is not a method you often see done, let alone done with cider. Yet, for all the extra work, their craft cider was moderately priced.

Last, closer in to Port Townsend, was Wildfire Cider, who also had a very different business model in that they are Washington’s only organic cidery, and probably only one of two in the nation with the other being JK Scrumpy, though Wandering Aengus Ciderworks tried to be organic for a short while. As a result, they really only talked about the organic process of growing the apples and the difficulties it has lead to making the cider due to legal restrictions since they are pioneers. This in turn made me realize how very little they talked about the cider. When you are organic and nobody else is, you got to keep talking about it as a way to set yourself apart, but the product was lost. Wildfire Cider has no tasting room, but instead has a small table set out in their production room. Most places start you out with the drier ciders and wines and move into the sweeter ones, but they actually started us sweet, and then had us eat some cheese to reset our taste buds before moving onto the dry ciders. I liked that, because it allowed them to control the tasting order in the way they wanted to. Wildfire Cider only accepts cash or check at their facility, but I have found their product in Seattle at beer shops. Again, their product seemed moderately priced.

All three places had a flier of Jefferson County Wine and Cider Map, in which five places total were listed, the other two being stricktly wineries. The map included websites, addresses, phone numbers, and tasting hours. Each facility also asked me if I had been to any of the other facilities. I think this practice is good, as least while there are so few, as it encourages tourism and gets people out drinking cider so that they will come back and drink more cider.

Further Reading:


5 Responses to “Review of Cideries on the Washington Peninsula”

  1. […] Review of Cideries on the Washington Peninsula […]

  2. Hailey Says:

    In May 2010 I happened to be in Port Townsend on a girls weekend. We didn’t have a whole lot planned, so I googled things to do. I was shocked and very much surprised to find they had 3 cideries. I basically forced the other 2 girls to go with me (they had never had cider before). I was impressed with what I found, but then again I had nothing to compare them to. I liked Eaglemount the best and bought a case! Ha. We even got a tour of their production and we were told they designed and built the equipment themselves…which I thought was pretty dang cool! Oh and Wildfire had to change there name recently…they are now Alpenfire Cider.

  3. […] and I will be tasting the two hopped ciders side by side for comparison. I think I will also give Finnriver’s Spritied Apple Wine a try. I’m not sure I’ve had all of Tieton’s cider, and it is […]

  4. […] Westcott Bay Extra Dry, a dry cider I had made, Blackthorn, Red Barn Burro Loco (higher acid), Alpenfire Bittersweet (higher tannin) , and Eaglemount Sweet. The cheeses that my guests brought were not as diverse as I […]

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