During Colonial Times, hard cider (fermented apple juice) was the most commonly consumed beverage in America. Its popularity began to dwindle in the late 1800s, and the onset of Prohibition in the 1920’s ended its reign. Recent years, however, have seen a resurgence in hard cider production and consumption. Today, Oregon is home to more than 60 cideries, with retail sales of local and regional brands topping $17 million in 2017 – making Oregon the only state where local independent brands beat out national names.
In the Mid-Willamette Valley – already known for producing world-class wines and craft beers - cider makers have joined the artisan beverage movement, using the bountiful ingredients found in this rich agricultural region to produce premium products. Make plans to visit these Salem area cider makers soon:
Wandering Aengus Ciderworks (Salem)
Wandering Aengus Ciderworks was one of the first craft cideries established in Oregon and helped to spearhead the re-birth of cider in the nation. The company focuses on semi-dry and dry ciders, as well as fruit ciders and sweet ciders. They use fresh pressed common dessert apple varieties from Oregon and Washington for their Anthem Ciders. For the dry Wandering Aengus ciders, they use specialty bittersweet apple varieties grown by Salem's E.Z. Orchards.
"Our ciders are made the way people expect cider to be made: fermentation of fresh pressed apples, other fresh fruit and spices. We do not add sugar, acids or flavors," says owner James Kohn.
While their Southeast Salem tasting room is currently under construction, you can find their Wandering Aengus and Anthem Ciders in dozens of retail locations throughout Oregon including Roth’s Fresh Markets in Salem.
1859 Cider Co. (Salem)
After spending about 5 years making ultra-premium wines in the Willamette Valley, Patricia and Dan Fox decided to transition to hard cider. In 2015, they established the 1859 Cider Co. tasting room and production facility in downtown Salem. Dan and Patricia focus on ciders that are acidic and tannic, age well and often wild fermented. They use locally sourced fruit and like to "see what each vintage brings and tastes like before we decide what we'll source that year," says Patricia.
"Our ciders are made with integrity... and true to the land where the fruit was picked. We don't use sugar, syrups, concentrates or purees. We simply let the fruit shine,” she adds. 1859 ciders are available in the tasting room and taphouse in downtown Salem and at area restaurants and taphouses (on a rotating basis).