What is “Authentic Cider”?
This weekend Cider Review published an article that really struck a nerve. Chris Russell-Smith asks the question: What is authentic cider? This descriptor is thrown around a lot to market all kinds of drinks, and really does not have much meaning anymore at all. I feel strongly that we are producing authentic cider. But what exactly makes it authentic? And why should you care? Is it any better or worse than other cider?
Before reading further, I urge you to go and read the article. It’s a long one, but it does a stellar job at picking apart the various aspects and putting them into a context that makes so much sense. Anybody even a little serious about cider needs to read it.
No doubt you are now inspired to go forth and seek out truly authentic cider. So how do we measure up to the 3 principles of authenticity?
- Place: We harvest all of our fruit from a handful of orchards within a 25km radius. These are established standard trees of heritage varieties, many of which are 50 years or more. Some of the ancient perry pear trees have stood over a century, sending their roots deep and wide into the soil. None of these trees have ever been sprayed or artificially fertilized. A truer expression of our local geography and climate you will not find.
- Time: We harvest annually and produce vintage cider and perry that reflects the preceding seasons and varies from year to year. The orchards themselves are replete with history: established long ago by farmers seeking to diversify their plantings and make the best use of marginal land. The old varieties, the choice of seedling rootstock, the pruning techniques, the maintenance of the understory … all of these have evolved over a long period of time – a testament to a bygone era of subsistence farming, that is now being rediscovered for it’s cidermaking potential.
- Culture: Besides the cultural history embodied in our orchards, our cidermaking is, of course, informed by our personal history and cultural influences. Our wild ferments hew closely to the traditional farm ciders of the region. Our hopped cider or whisky cask-aged cider is certainly influenced by our exposure to the cider scene of the Pacific Northwest. And our perry – a drink that is totally unknown here – is simply a reflection of what we love best in fermented beverage.
I hope you are intrigued and keen to experience not just our fermented delights, but authentic ciders and perries from the many passionate makers in apple and pear-growing regions around the world. As Chris states it so well: “Choose life!”