Cidery tour: In search of the perfect cider

Road Journals Blog—I come from a farm on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula that’s been in my family for 118 years. East of the barn sits an organic apple orchard that’s more than a century old, which yields waxy skinned, sweet-tart Tompkins King apples.

I no longer live on the farm, but every fall I gather my family there for cider making on an antique apple press built by my grandfather. The buckets of sun-warmed Kings are gradually tumbled into the chopper hopper, becoming a stream of complexly flavored, sediment-rich cider that we pour from a stainless-steel basin into a growing cluster of jugs.


Apple butter milk shakes at the Cashmere Cider Mill | Leslie Forsberg

With this history, it’s no surprise that whenever I encounter a sign for fresh cider while traveling, I don’t hesitate.

On a fall family road trip through Washington State, we crossed the backbone of the Cascades at Leavenworth and coasted downhill past brilliant flashes of scarlet vine maples peeking out like petticoats from a forest of green, following the sinuous bends of U.S. Route 2 as it rambled down the valley.


Learning to make apple butter at the Cider Mill | Leslie Forsberg

I had done my homework, and was in search of fresh-squeezed cider at The Cashmere Cider Mill, a small, family-owned, non-alcoholic cider producer deep in apple country.

Tidy rows of apple trees like wave sets rolling across the valley floor announced that we were in apple country as we neared the tiny town of Cashmere, tucked alongside the Wenatchee River. Best known as the home of Liberty Orchards’ Aplets & Cotlets, a form of Turkish delight made with apple and apricot juices, Cashmere is also where Lady Blush artisan ciders are made.

We turned off the highway and followed signs past well-kept heritage homes to the mill. Just inside the driveway a bright red antique truck sat surrounded by showy sunflowers and pumpkins, still on the vine. A tree-shaded lawn next to a bubbling creek offered spots to lounge atop picnic tables and Adirondack chairs.


Cider scion Joseph Green | Leslie Forsberg

Inside the rustic building was a café, a gift shop stocked with apple products, and a tasting bar. A lanky, polite young man—Joseph Green, son of owner Marcia Green—poured samples, and we savored not just traditional apple cider but huckleberry, pear, spice, and cherry blends, all made from century-old heritage varietals.

This was “honest” cider—no preservatives or artificial ingredients. Our favorite was the cherry; refreshing and not too sweet, it had an ideal balance of fruit flavors, and lived up to its name by blushing in a fetching way.

Lady Blush cider is available both fresh and frozen, and we bought a slender bottle of it for refreshment on the road, as well as a frozen jug that would stand up to the three-hour journey home.

No cider will ever taste quite like the homemade juice of my family’s farm, but The Cider Mill’s comes darn close.

Q: Do you have a favorite cider that can stand up to the Cider Mill’s? Or does your region have a distinct beverage of its own?

Leslie Forsberg wrote about cideries for the March/April 2011 Oregon edition of VIA.

This blog post was first published in April 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

Comments

Finnriver is an Olympic Peninsula cidery we mentioned in our VIA story on the subject. Check out the entire piece for even more options. Hope your trip is fabulous!

WHERE IS YOUR CIDERY AND APPLE FARM LOCATED ON THE OLYMPIC PENINSULA ? WE WILL BE THERE NEXT MONTH FOR A 10 DAY TOUR OF WESTERN WASHINGTON.

WE ARE FOUR SENIORS FROM SARASOTA, FLORIDA WHO WILL BE DOING A 10 DAY VISIT TO THE SEATTLE AREA IN EARLY OCTOBER. WE ARE FARM BORN PEOPLE AND WE LOVE THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST. THIS YEAR WE ARE GOING TO CONCENTRATE OUR EFFORTS MOSTLY WEST OF SEATTLE (OLYMPIC PENINSULA). OUR BOUNDRIES WILL BE B.C TO THE NORTH. PACIFIC TO THE WEST, ASTORIA OREGON TO THE SOUTH, THE DALLES TO THE EAST AND THEN BACK TO SEATTLE WITH STOPS AT MT. ST HELEN AND MT RANIER. WE LOVE CIDERIES AND JUST WONDER IF THERE ARE ANY WITHIN THIS AREA