: Joshua Rainey

Spectacular Ciders in the Willamette Valley

Take a tasting trip through the rolling orchards where these fruit are grown.
August 4, 2023

Oregon’s Willamette Valley needs no introduction to legions of wine lovers, but did you know that this area famed for its vineyards and postcard views is also a great destination for cider fans?

Visiting a cidery can be a fun adventure for the entire family since many of the tasting rooms carry alcohol-free, kid-pleasing versions of their creations. And like wineries, some cideries sit on farmland where you might just find charismatic animals for petting and play areas to get the wiggles out. 

To make planning a getaway easy, the Northwest Cider Association has an interactive online map that introduces you to the lay of the land. Select the cideries that pique your interest and the site will plot out a route while suggesting other stops nearby. Here’s a sample itinerary to get you inspired.

Clsoe up of a bottle of Bauman cider and a poured glass.
Courtesy of Bauman's Cider

Kid-Friendly Cidery in Gervais

Bauman’s Cider near Gervais — about 15 miles northeast of Salem — has been making a name for itself with award-winning ciders born from a blend of traditional and modern techniques designed to showcase the wonderfully complex flavors of estate-grown and locally procured fruit. 

It all started more than a century ago when head cidermaker Christine Walter’s great-great-grandmother Elizabeth first farmed the land. Today Walter, a fifth-generation farmer, carries on the tradition with Harvest Series ciders like the Stoke Red made from apples grown in nearby Aumsville. More seasonal creations include treats like the Strawberry Mojito with estate-grown strawberries and mint. 

For the kids, check out the farm’s petting zoo, playground and the food and drink options fit for all ages, including apple-cider doughnuts and alcohol-free ciders. In the fall you’ll find a corn maze, a pumpkin patch and even laser tag.

People toasting their cider at a table.
Photo by Joshua Rainey

A Mexican Twist on a Delicious Drink

If you’ve ever tried aguas frescas, those deliciously addicting fresh-fruit beverages popular in Mexico and Central America, then a stop at La Familia Cider Company in Salem is a must. That’s where the Gonzalezes, a first-generation family from Mexico, settled and started a cidery in 2017 after decades of harvesting strawberries from the surrounding farms. In those days, Lourdes, the matriarch, used to make these tasty juice blends to help beat the heat, and today her son, José, combines that tradition with 100% Northwest apple juice, with no water or artificial flavors, for a unique take on the classic drink. Try flavors like tamarind, jamaica (hibiscus) or the ever-popular guayaba (guava).

La Familia doesn’t serve kid-friendly ciders, but the underage aren’t forgotten. Head next door to Azuls Taco House — a taqueria that shares the same space as La Familia — for creative spins on classics like barbecue sauce-glazed pulled pork or teriyaki-chicken tacos and alcohol-free aguas frescas with flavors like watermelon and cucumber. 

People inside a cidery ordering at the bar.
Photo by Joshua Rainey

Picnic and Play over Classics in Dallas

Head 15 miles west of Salem to Dallas, home to Salt Creek Cider House, a family-owned and operated orchard and cidery. There the Rickert family takes great pride in crafting what they note is “America’s original beverage of choice.” Historical records confirm that early American colonialists even gave their children diluted versions of the drink. The cidermaking happens right there on the 20-acre farm — from the growing to the pressing — and staples include apple/pear, apple/cherry, and even an apple, pear and marionberry blend. Throughout the year you can find limited seasonal releases like the Brave, an apple cider aged in whiskey barrels, and Celebrate, a cranberry version. 

The family serves light snacks, including a board featuring Tillamook cheese, salami, trail mix and dark chocolates covered in sea salt, while food trucks are often on-site on the weekends. For kids there’s a play structure and plenty of room to romp around, so picnics are welcome, too. Watch the events calendar for activities like outdoor yoga. 

Visit Oregon’s Cider Powerhouse

To continue your cider tour, head southeast through miles of green farmland and picture-perfect rural outposts to the vibrant college town of Corvallis. Award-winning 2 Towns Ciderhouse began in a two-car garage in 2010 and has transformed into one of the largest craft-beverage companies in Northwest. With three production facilities and ciders like the double gold winning Cosmic Crisp selling in 15 states, it’s a true success story. The taproom has over 20 ciders on rotation, including seasonal flavors like Cherry Sublime and the everpopular Made Marion, with marionberries. Heads up: No minors are allowed, including infants, but dogs are welcome on the patio.  

About The

Tim Neville
Tim Neville is a writer based in Bend where he writes about the outdoors, travel and the business of both. His work has been included in Best American Travel Writing, Best American Sports Writing and Best Food Writing, and earned various awards from the Society of American Travel Writers and the Society of Professional Journalists. Tim has reported from all seven continents and spends his free time skiing, running and spending time with his family.

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