Did you know that ciders are not crafted like beer? In fact vintners, the same folks that make wine, create most ciders. Sure, ciders are not exactly like wine. For starters, hard cider makers don't start with grapes and generally make lower alcohol beverages. But fruits like apples, pears and cherries can be aged and poured with delicious, complex results.
Feel free to toss assumptions aside when approaching ciders. You may have wondered if hard cider tastes like apple juice. No —hard ciders can be very dry. It’s also easy to assume local cider makers are going back to “old world” traditions, yet many are making “modern” ciders featuring dessert varieties of tree fruit, including pears. Served frosty, in shades ranging from pale pink to deep amber, ciders beckon with a subtle invitation, best described with words like "scrumpy" or "wild ferment."
When you are Savoring Central Washington we invite you to sample, sip and expand your tastebuds. While hard ciders are content to chill, they will certainly reward you for your attention!
Savor Central WA sponsors the annual Big Chill Cider Festival where you can taste Apple Capital Ciders. Cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19, we will be back when it's safe to present as we offer hard cider from our up-and-coming cider region.
It's happening in the Apple Capital of the World! Generations-old orchards are being harvested to create hard pear and apple ciders that are unique and delicious. Check out a dozen local cider makers and have yummy fun exploring a wide variety of flavors.
Cheryl Koenig of Rootwood Cider in Manson runs apple orchards that have produced premium eating apples for five generations. She and her family branched out in 2010, grafting new apple varieties into their orchard and opening a tasting room in Manson.
Cheryl says that the apples for which the Wenatchee Valley is famous are not, with the exception of Granny Smith, great for making hard cider. “What makes a great eating apple–including high sugar content- is only one characteristic we are looking for. We also look for high levels of acid and tannin to build flavor and fermentation.” Those three factors, acidity, tannin and sugar, drive flavor the categories: bittersweet, bittersharp, sharp or sweet.
Cider makers refer to their craft with terms like cidre, scrumpy/farmhouse, off-dry, wild ferment, single varietal and wood aged. “Like wine, there are volumes written and a whole vocabulary dedicated to crafting hard ciders,” Cheryl said. “But for the most part, when it comes to enjoying hard ciders, it is a matter of whether you like it or not!”