I have been pointing the nose of my Toyota east and shooting down the Gorge the last couple weeks. That's the newest hotspot for Oregon cider, although most of the cideries are so new very few people have heard of them. Over the next few weeks or months, I'll be giving them the full Cider Saturday treatment, but for now, here's a picture essay and a thumbnail description of each cidery. In the meantime, you can organize a tour for yourself if you wish. All the cideries mentioned here have regular hours and welcome the public. Click the links for details.
1. Gorge Cyder House
Stefan Guemperlein operates the tiniest cidery from the back of his Ovino store in Hood River. A German who recalls drinking cider in Bavaria in his youth, it was actually his love of Italian wines that brought him to the apple. Now he makes naturally-fermented cider, slow-aged to rich complexity.
You want cider? The orchardist Bob Fox and his cider-making partner Justin Cardwell have cider--eight varieties when I visited. Many include fruits gathered elsewhere on the farm (the best-seller is a peach cider, Fuzzy Haven), but I like the English-style dry, Docklands. Stop into their really nice taproom just north of Hood River to sample.
3. Rack and Cloth
I think Mosier is about to go on the cider map--it's about five miles east of Hood River, and it's where you find Rack and Cloth. They have a cool little tasting-room/restaurant, and you can get not only their cider there, but food made from the produce of their farm. Right now supplies are in very short supply, so visit early. Silas has parceled out one five-gallon keg for each day they're open until the new cider is in, and when it's gone, you have to drink beer. (Horrors!) By the way the sheep on the far right is PommePomme, the cidery's mascot.
4. Draper Girls
At the moment, Theresa Draper only makes sweet cider--that is, pre-fermented. She is edging toward a cidery and tasting room to showcase the nine acres of heirloom fruit she grows, but that's down the line. But here's the thing: that sweet cider is unpasteurized. That means if you want to ferment it out yourself, with the Drapers' own Parkdale yeast, all you need is a carboy. In October, I'm definitely making a trek out to pick up my five gallons.
5. Hood Valley
Hood Valley is located across the street from Solera Brewing in downtown Parkdale. Cider maker Brian Perkey has a long history in brewing, and brings his experience to the endeavor of producing a high-quality off-dry draft cider--the equivalent of a good session ale. Both he and his ciders are enormously effervescent, and chatting with him is as fun as drinking his product.