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11 Spectacular Cideries & Farms of the Pacific Northwest
Story by Kirstie Bingham
The Pacific Northwest is one of the USA’s top ten producers of apples, and the diversity, knowledge, and craftsmanship of its apple crops shines through ciders being produced in the region. No wonder the craft ciders of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho are growing in popularity. The chance to taste ciders is one great reason to visit the area, whether you favor versions made from limited-edition heritage crabapples or the star-dotted Cosmic Crisps bred at Washington State University.
Many cideries are set in beautiful locations. It might be a spectacular pastoral scene or a super urban oasis, but each in its own way is a wonderful, interesting place worthy of a visit. Here are several cideries that produce great cider plus are worthwhile destinations. All of the cideries featured here are adhering to state and local coronavirus guidelines (including masks, distancing, and occupancy requirements); any additional specific pandemic-related requirements are noted.
Bask in surreal natural beauty at Art + Science in Sheridan, Oregon. Whether seated at picnic tables near the taproom, in any of three hoop-covered private areas, or two plant-filled garden seating oases, enjoy amazing views of grassy fields that stretch to meet the mountains in the distance. Canopies cover seating areas and offer protection from the elements as you sip fantastic cider. Stringed lights illuminate the tasting area and covered picnic tables each evening, giving the place a magical glow.
Photo Credit: Matthew Wastradowski
While visiting, you can walk through the pollinator gardens and orchards, visit the chickens and ducks, and kids can play in the fort area or play badminton on the lawns. The owners are hoping to offer camping this summer, too. In 2020 Art + Science participated in the Harvest Hosts program, that features over 2,094+ farms, breweries, cideries, and other locations to provide RV campers with “unique camping experiences”; it plans to continue being a part of that program in 2021.
While the Wildwood Music Fest is usually held in July, it’s on hiatus for 2021 due to coronavirus. However, the hope is to host some smaller music events during the season. The first show is planned for June 19, 2021 to celebrate the Summer Solstice with bands Wanderlodge and Turkey Buzzards. Check the website and sign up for the mailing list to make sure you receive updates on any upcoming events.
Note that hours of operation at this cidery are later than most, generally from 3-10 p.m., but that’s intentional to show off the property. “My absolute favorite time of day is evening here,” says owner Kim Hamblin, “so when we decided to open a tasting space, I wanted to share the best part of the property with our patrons. Dusk is delightful!”
Last year the new tasting room debuted, so the season was shorter, but this year it will be open from Memorial Day to October 1. The small, licensed kitchen takes orders and serves through an exterior window. Because the public areas and seating are all outside, the tap room generally is seasonal. Post-coronavirus, the cidery will be happy to arrange tastings off-hours and off-season as well.
Bauman’s Farm & Garden Center in Gervais, Oregon, is a playground the whole family can enjoy. The animals to pet, play areas, plus tricycle and pedal-car tracks are of special appeal to youngsters, while the lush garden center, colorful produce stands, aromatic coffee shop, temptation-filled bakery, stocked country store, and tasty cider appeal to folks of all ages.
There isn’t a tap room at the farm per se, but you can get a glass of cider at taps next to the coffee shop. Visitors are asked to find a seat and not wander around the farm while enjoying a drink. Regular seasonal activities are hosted at the farm, including the annual Cider Festival, so keep an eye on the website for upcoming events.
While most parts of the farm are free to visit, tickets are sold for some activities; for example, pellets to feed the animals are a quarter. All stores are currently open; the animal barn and new kids’ playground reopened on February 26. If you have specific interests, call ahead to find out which specific activities will be available at the time of your visit.
No pets are allowed inside the store, only service or assistance animals, though well-behaved furry friends on leashes are allowed on the farm in general.
While Capitol Cider in Seattle, Washington, doesn’t produce its own cider, it’s a mecca for cider aficionados that warrants inclusion on this list thanks to its mindboggling count of over 200 taps and bottles of cider available at any time. What’s more, along with all the individual ciders available for tasting, it also makes craft cocktails featuring those ciders.
Named 2018’s “Pacific Northwest Cider Establishment Of The Year” by the Cider Association of America, the taproom is located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, where it was the area’s first cider bar and is the current caretaker of a building that’s more than a century old. Inside, romantic, vintage décor complements paintings commissioned from local artists, including artworks from students at the Aristides Atelier at Gage Academy of Art. All food from the on-site kitchen is made from scratch and 100 percent gluten- and nut-free; more importantly, the menu is meant to complement and pair with the ciders.
On any given night, there’s something happening at Capitol Cider, from live music to burlesque to its locally-infamous “Drink & Draw” nights. Due to the rapidly-changing nature of the pandemic, it’s best to check Facebook for up-to-date details on current events.
There’s a good chance that Daniel the cider dog will greet you upon arrival to the taproom at Dragon’s Head Cider, which is located on Washington’s Vashon Island. During the week it operates as a bottle shop, but on the weekends the tasting room opens for visitors. All seating is outdoors, situated right next to a 30-acre orchard where Dragon’s Head grows most of its own fruit. A light tent provides coverage for rainy Pacific Northwest days. While the limited taproom space area requires some ingenuity, Dragon’s Head makes it work: “They literally push barrels and fermentation equipment out of the way so customers can come in on the weekends,” says Emily Ritchie, executive director at the Northwest Cider Association.
Because the indoor area is petite, reservations are requested to ensure spacing compliance during the coronavirus pandemic; walk-ins are accommodated when possible. The place is kid-friendly, plus leashed dogs are welcome. Feel free to bring a picnic.
In Chimacum, Washington on the fertile lands of the Olympic Peninsula’s Chimacum Valley sits Finnriver Cider’s beautiful garden, orchard, and taproom. Walk amongst the ten-acre organic apple orchard where 25 varieties of traditional and heirloom cider apples grow, then wander over to sit in the Cider Garden near the taproom and sample a wide variety of ciders. A covered Pavilion offers protection in unexpected inclement weather.
Photo Credit: Finnriver Farm & Cider
Finnriver is devoted to being a good neighbor: Dedicated to renewable energy, the farm is largely powered by solar and is bringing a new biodigester online soon that will turn food scraps into energy. It’s also committed to organic farming. Plus, it’s fighting to end injustice. This year, Finnriver will host its first-ever celebration of Juneteenth, in line with its new Social Justice Cider Project, which aims to increase equality in the community for black, indigenous, and people of color.
A good selection of food is available from its on-site kitchen, as well as pizza from Dented Buoy Pizza on the weekends.
Typically, Finnriver hosts music events every weekend as well as seasonal events like World Apple Day in October. The 2021 schedule remains in flux, but visit Finnriver’s events page for current events. The nearby Chimacum Valley area is home to many other farm stands selling local produce, as well as an annual lavender festival in July. The festival is cancelled for 2021, though individual lavender farms will be open.
Note that Finnriver currently requires children stay with their parents at tables or while walking around the orchards due to coronavirus restrictions, so please plan accordingly. There is a leashed walking area near the parking lot, but pets are not allowed in the Cider Garden.
Located on Vashon Island, Nashi Orchards opened its brand-new tasting room on April 3, 2021. The new space capitalizes on the best of the existing space plus brings “the ladies”— the resident cider sheep—closer to the new taproom since these fluffy gals are such a visitors’ favorite. Nashi, which means “pear” in Japanese, is one of the only cideries in the world that produces perry (an alcoholic beverage made from fermented pears) using Asian pears. Many different Asian pear varietals are grown and utilized. Owners Jim and Cheryl love what they do and love to talk to people about it, so Nashi is a great place to learn about ciders and, especially, what makes Asian pear ciders so exceptional and unique.
Tasting room dog Gunther oversees operations in the large taproom space, which can seat a number of people indoors even under current capacity restrictions. Don’t miss the 16-foot-long teak tasting table built by a local artisan. The outdoor area can seat up to 40 people distanced, including seats by the fire pit. You can also picnic under the weeping willows on the grass by the pond. Friendly, leashed dogs are welcome as long as they are good with other animals.
In a new offering for youngsters, Nashi offers Kids’ Cider Tastings. Partnering with a local cidery that produces non-alcoholic craft apple juice, kids can sample a dry and sweet version and share their opinions of each. Produced in bottles that look like adult beverages, the program launched in 2019 with great success, so it will be offered in the new taproom.
Until you’re able to tour in person, enjoy a video tour of the 50-year-old orchard.
Located in Dallas, Oregon, just off route 22 in the Willamette Valley, this small, family-owned cidery is in an idyllic setting. The little red barn where small-batch, handcrafted cider is created sits on a hill overlooking a large pond with a sprinkling fountain. Sit outside under the covered patio to enjoy the vista. Along with ducks that swim in the pond and wander around the property, the cidery often attracts wildlife from the nearby Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge.
Salt Creek Cidery typically has three or four house ciders on tap along with a rotating beer plus offers assorted light snacks; on Saturdays, food trucks are also on site. You’re welcome to bring a picnic if you prefer. You can wander the property, including the orchards, and camping is allowed each summer. Kids can burn off some energy in a play area, plus there’s cornhole and other games available for all ages.
The Schilling Cider House Portland is the epitome of urban cool. Set in the Goat Blocks area of Portland, Oregon’s east side, its ginormous windows and rooftop deck overlook the industrial cityscape. Schilling PDX claims to be the world’s largest cider house with over 50 ciders on tap from around the world. While many taps include Schilling’s own fantastic offerings, guest ciders are selected based on specific criteria. According to PDX Eater, “For a guest cider to be featured, it has to be made by an independently-owned cidery that does not use artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, and it has to be made out of 100 percent fresh-pressed juice.”
Photo Credit: Schilling Ciderhouse
The taproom is dog friendly outside on the deck. An outdoor fire pit on the patio takes the bite out of cool Portland days. Scratch-made, 100 percent gluten-free food is available from the house kitchen on site. Note that no children are allowed; this venue is strictly 21+ only.
The circular stone firepit overlooking the serene, trout-stocked pond at Stone Circle Cider in Estacada, Oregon, is a place to linger on summer nights: Sip fireside while gazing at the Coastal Range Mountains and up at the stars. Originally a Christmas tree farm, it began planting heirloom apple varietals in 2015. Now, you can sip ciders while strolling through the museum orchard filled with 60 different kinds of apples; each tree is marked with an informational plaque to facilitate learning. Take the kiddos on a stroll through the children’s orchard.
Inspired by co-owner John Hamblin’s experience with ciders back in his native United Kingdom, together with co-owner and brother-in-law Dan Lawrence, the goal is to produce the best possible English-style ciders in the United States.
The lovely little taproom has the feeling of a quaint rustic cabin, with wood walls and low tables. During the pandemic, however, service is limited to the outdoors. Check online for up-to-date information.
Get your bocce ball-throwing arms warmed up and ready to go, because Tieton Cider Works’ Cider Bar in Yakima, Washington is readying its field for a Thursday night bocce ball league (with hopes to launch this spring).
Photo Credit: Tieton Cider Works
Recently reopened for outdoor service and limited indoor seating after being restricted to bottle sales and growler fills during recent pandemic-related shutdowns, many things are still in flux at Tieton, as everywhere. But it has great plans for spring and summer. Currently-scheduled events include a food truck and band on April 17, just before the annual Yakima-area Spring Barrel wine tasting tour. It’s also planning a spring cider clearance event around the same time.
Meat and cheese platters are available for snacking, and food trucks are available most weekends.
Children are welcome with adult supervision, and pets are allowed in the outdoor areas. Elks Park next door offers several sporting fields and places to roam. Hours will be expanding; check Facebook for updates on hours, events, and new releases.
When the Pullman airport expansion forced the former Whiskey Barrel Cider out of its location, the company rebranded and opened its new, 10,000-square-foot tasting room and production facility in Liberty Lake, Washington, just outside of Spokane, in 2019.
Trailbreaker Cider is located approximately five miles from the Idaho border; from here you can see the foothills of the Rockies in western Idaho rising in the distance. The two-story, mostly-glass building holds the taproom, restaurant, and production facility. From the second floor you can watch the cider-making process. Live music events and special dinners—like Friday BBQ rib nights—are hosted.
If you’ve ever wanted to try a grilled peanut butter and jelly sandwich, here’s where to do just that. If that’s not your jam (pun intended), Trailbreaker’s food menu is not huge, but will satisfy a wide variety of palates. Harkening back to its days in Pullman, it also offers a WSU Cougar Gold grilled cheese sandwich. In addition to hard cider, non-alcoholic fresh-pressed cider is available, too.
There’s plenty of dog-friendly seating outside, but the facility also offers plenty of space to accommodate indoor dining, even with coronavirus-related restrictions.
Plan A Trip
Conveniently, Dragon’s Head and Nashi are both located on Vashon Island; it’s easy to visit both cideries in one trip in order to experience very different ciders in two amazing places that are just a short drive from each other. Reach the island via a 20-minute car ferry ride from Fauntleroy in West Seattle. It’s a great day trip for the entire family!
Kirstie Bingham is a recovered actor, former project manager, retired script supervisor, and a now, happily, writer. Writing primarily about food/beverage, travel, and the entertainment industry, she’s a staff writer for Mashed and Grunge, with additional bylines on Medium, Gear Moose, and others. She enjoys working from home, writing, and daydreaming.