Cider has been a growing presence in restaurants and on grocery shelves, a potion sitting at the nexus where artisanal beverages meet the farm-to-table movement. Curiously, Portland and the Willamette Valley have been the center of the cider world over the past decade — not the gentle valleys and slopes around Hood River synonymous with heirloom orchards. All that is changing, and quickly, as a trove of new cideries have cropped up in and around the Hood River Valley.
Led by orchardists whose families have been cultivating apples, pears and cherries for generations, these new cideries are showcasing the bright, farm-fresh flavors of tree-ripened fruit. The cider makers see their product as a natural extension of their long connection to the land, and they have formed a collegial, supportive network. If you’re in the Hood River Valley, look them up and stop in for a glass. Better yet, join the party at the annual Hood River Hard-Pressed Cider Fest.
Editor’s note: Since this story’s publication, new cideries have opened in the Hood River Valley — such as Crush Cider Café,River Cider,Runcible Ciderand Slopeswell Cider Co.— and you can find cider on tap at most restaurants. Other local fixtures have joined the cider scene, with Double Mountain Brewery, Draper Girls Country Farm, Hiyu Wine Farm, Mt. Hood Organic Farms and Mt. View Orchards producing their own signature brands of cider.
Jeff Alworth is the author of The Beer Bible, Cider Made Simple, and The Secrets of Master Brewers. He has been writing about Oregon beer for over two decades for newspapers and magazines, including Sunset and All About Beer, as well as on his long-running blog, Beervana.