Archive for the ‘Cider Makers (Artisan & Traditional)’ Category

I think Washington State and the Northwest moreover is setting the stage to be a cider power house. This year in Washington we have not 1, not 2, but 3 brand spankin’ new cider makers. One based in the “Apple Capital of the World” Wenatchee WA., one working around Port Townsend WA., the last one and not-so coincidentally the topic of this post is located in a little place just outside Yakima Washington called Tieton.

The small town of Tieton is surrounded by some very large orchards and seems rife apple culture. Tieton Cider Works may be new but the primary stakeholders and partners are not new at all to the apple business. Tieton Cider Work’s origin stems from Harmony Orchards owned by Craig and Sharon Campbell. I was told Craig’s family had been in the area and the orchard business a long time. Craig is a third generation Yakima Valley farmer and trained horticulturist, and they’ve been at the forefront of organic agriculture producing organic apples and fruit for about 20 years now.

Craig and Sharon are only half of the equation in this story. The other half is made up of Cindy Richter and Fred Kasak. Cindy is Tieton Cider Works’ “chief cider maker” and also has a background in organic fruit and produce promotion. Gotta like that. As the story goes Cindy took cider class at Cornell in 2007, a discussion followed with Craig and Sharon and that seems to have been the main catylist and inspiration behind all these great folks to coming together to give the real cider business a try.

Read more on Tieton Cider’s story on their website.

I was classmates with Sharon and Cindy for Peter Mitchell’s “Principles & Practice of Cider Making” class held at the WSU Experimental Ag Station in Mount Vernon, WA. I remember them fairly clearly. There were no other “pairs” of people who knew each other in class, and they seemed down to business, diligent and dedicated to their notebooks. A little over year later Sharon, Cindy, and I ended up emailing quite a bit which eventually led to Heather and I being asked over for a visit their cider house to “help” with their last day of cider pressing.

We were up at 5:15 or so, very early for us, and headed out the door for our 3 hour drive at around 6AM… The drive over Highway 12 turned out to be absolutely gorgeous in all it’s Fall splendor. Once we crested the top of White Pass we found golden colored Lyall Larches dotting the mountainsides. I can’t say I recall ever seeing anything quite like it before. Absolutely gorgeous.

Golden Spruce on White Pass in Washington State.

Golden colored Lyall Larches on White Pass in Washington State.

We arrived at around 9:30 or so to find the Harmony/Tieton crew hard at work since 8. Our 3 hour drive turned into a 3 and a half our drive after a 20-30 minute construction delay on the East side of White Pass. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit a few cider makers over the past few years; 3 of which we visited during the cider class. Tieton pressed for the ’08 season and using their experiences commissioned a brand new apple sorting and cider production line to help streamline the ’09 season and increase output. Needless to say I was thoroughly excited to check it out.

Apple bin at Tieton Cider Works. I don't recall which variety this was. Dabinett?

Tieton Cider Work’s operation was smack dab in the middle of a giant working organic orchard in the heart of orchard country. Down the dirt road I could see the massive pressing area surrounded by double orchard bins filled to the brim with varying varieties of apples… Condemned and waiting their turn at the grinder and press. To put it simply I thought their processing line was amazing… Equipment envy!

It all starts with the bins of apples that are fork lifted into a hydraulic bin lift which ever so gently believe it or not moves apples onto a large white conveyor belt for sorting that is about 6 foot wide by 8 or so foot long, just wide enough to put a person or two on each side. From there the apples find themselves forced under a shower of water/so2 solution for sanitizing and onto a long line of roller brushes that brushing the sorted apples sparkling clean.

Apple on the sorting conveyor being funneled down, rinsed then brushed.

No looking back now as the apples are conveyed up a belt fitted with rubber fingers that grab and push the unsuspecting but clean apples up only to find themselves tossed down down the throat of an industrial apple grinder, shredded and pomaced into oblivion. And yeah it is pretty much as dismal as it sounds. Watch your hands!

Tieton Cider Work's future 2009 vintage cider headed to grinder. These are Winter Banana

From the grinder the apple pomace is pushed out in a never ending ribbon of shredded apple maybe an inch or two high onto and sandwiched between the two pressing belts of their Continuous Belt Press. I know I said it already but… Amazing! The whole thing was an exquisite sight of grandeur this gadgety cider guy.

Exiting the grinder and into the continuous belt press. Efficiency.

After the belt press extracts the all the juice the fairly dry remains of apple are scraped off the belt and fall into a waiting orchard bin. What do they do with the remains? Well there was a fairly steady stream of folks coming to shovel it into containers and haul it off to use as free and tasty feed for the farm stock or as compost. Nothing goes to waste and nothing hits the landfill. It’s been said before but done like Tieton does it cider has got to be one of the most environmentally friendly beverages to produce. It takes a community to help out, kudos to the person organizing and arranging the pick ups.

Cider maker Cinder Richter at Tieton Cider Works

Cider maker Cinder Richter hard at work in Tieton Cider Works cider house.

From the outside the must (apple juice) is whisked inside the cider house through an inlet piped straight through the wall into very large poly fermentation vessels, 500 Gallon I think. Amongst the giant tanks there was also a few carboys on racks and some larger scale experimental fermenting being started in 55 gallon stainless wine barrels. Cindy could be found in the cider house sterilizing barrels, monitoring levels in tanks, switching the hose from full tanks to empty, taking notes on apple varieties, testing batches for pH, starting gravity and acidity. If that weren’t enough she was starting and pitching yeast in tanks filled during the previous days pressing. More never ending busy work.

Heather sorting apples at Tieton Cider Works.

Heather sorting apples headed towards the press.

They put Heather and I on one side of the sorting table where we quickly took up sorting the good apples from the bad with some consult from Roy Harmony’s orchard manager. Soon enough we both had the details straight and were sorting like unseasoned amateurs. I don’t care what they say… 1 apple doesn’t necessarily spoil the whole barrel or even the bin for that mater. Actually there weren’t many bad ones to be found at all. The art of the sorting job as we found out was mostly in hands the apple bin operator’s control. The hydraulic bin dumper carefully finessed should keep a steady stream of apples traveling down the belt. Not too many, not too few. I know there were kinks worked out and all but the process seemed absolutely seamless from an outsider’s presepective. Always running, constantly grinding and forever pressing. Minus a minor belt adjustment and tightening come mid-afternoon the production seemed never ending.

If the experience weren’t enough we were treated to an awesome lunch outside next to the press set up. Among the many delicious things there was homemade Carnitas and Salsa, some of the best I have ever tasted I should add. After lunch we were able to sneak in a quick sampling, some tasting of their new line of ciders, not to mention a little cider talk with Cindy. I think there is never enough cider talk or tasting, however we tried to keep it as brief as humanly possible as to not abandon our quality control apple sorting posts for too long.

The Northwest cider making community is a small, warm, friendly and cooperative family. Heather and I had an excellent day with our friends at Tieton. The experience was great, we met lots of great folks like Orchard Manager Roy and family, and Orchard Mechanic/Handy Guy Kelly. Sharon, Craig, Cindy and Fred were generous enough to send us home with containers of juice to ferment. Thanks guys!

I hear Tieton’s limited run of first year cider, the ’08 vintage, sold out quick. Well they may have no more. I was glad that we picked up a case while we were there, but even that went quick. Between sampling out to our local bottle shop here in Oly, gifting to Megan – Heather’s sister and our chief dog watcher for the day, we ran out quick too.

Good things are going to come from these folks. I know I’ll be impatiently awaiting the bottles from ’09 to hit the shelves.

Additional Information:

If you’d like a taste of  Tieton Cider Works I hear they have stock at 99 Bottles in Federal Way, WA. and Full Throttle Bottle in Seattle, WA. Both excellent bottleshops and great supporters of and sources for the traditional ciders of Washington State. They stay on top of the game and seem to get carry them all old and new. Thanks for supporting cider Washington guys!

Tieton also ships cider in Washington State. The website says they can start to ship out of state starting February 2010.

Tieton Cider has a Facebook Fan Page here and you can find the Tieton Cider blog here.

My complete set of pictures from our trip to Tieton Cider Works is here on Flickr.

Tieton Cider Works 2009 Vintage Ciders: Dry, Semi-Dry, and Cherry.


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Just got word via Twitter post from Lars at Snowdrift Cider Co. in East Wenatchee WA. that the GLINT CAP (Commercial) results were in. Here are the results from the link he posted. I’ll update if anything turns out to be inaccurate.

A lot of great folks got the praise and appreciation they deserve. Special congrats to Snowdrift Cider Co. who has barely released their cider and yet brought home two medals a bronze for their Dry in the English Style and a gold for the Semi-Dry in the New England Style category. Rich Anderson at Westcott Bay Orchards Cider got another gold for his Dry and silver medal for his Very Dry in the English Style category. Drew Zimmerman at Red Barn Cider got a Silver in the common Perry category for Red Barn Perry “Moulton’s Dry”.

I’d also like to give special recognition to Mike Beck of Uncle John’s Cider Mill. Uncle John’s really cleaned up apparently with what looks to be about 10 medals. Way to go guys. Mike also sent me a load of ciders from their Great Lakes International Cider Festival which are in my refrigerator awaiting a quiet moment for Heather and I to evaluate and potentially write about a number of them. I didn’t get any Uncle John’s in the package but it certainly looks as though I need to get my hands on some.

Congratulations to all the winners and all the entrants. Keep up the great work cider makers.

I urge you all to pick up any of these ciders on the list or even any local craft cider you can find. Many of the winners can be found on my map and the ones I don’t have at the time of my post will be up shortly.

The results

Category 25a – Cyser (1 Entry)

Gold – Uncle John’s Fruit House Winery, Cyser, St Johns, MI

Category 26c – Open Category Mead (1 Entry)

Silver – Robinette Cellars, Cyser, Grand Rapids, MI

Category 27a – Common Cider (21 Entries)

Gold – Uncle John’s Fruit House Winery, Uncle John’s Hard Cider, St Johns, MI
Silver – Blackstar Farms, Hard Apple Cider, Suttons Bay, MI

Silver – McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks, North Carolina Hard Cider Thurmond, NC
Silver – Warrick Valley Winery and Distillery, Doc’s Draft Hard Apple Cider, Warwick, NY
Silver – Spicers Orchard Winery, Sweet Williams Hard Cider, Fenton, MI
Bronze – McRitchie Winery & Ciderworks, North Carolina Dry Hard Cider, Thurmond, NC

Bronze – Tulip Valley Vineyard and Orchard, Burro Loco Cider, Mount Vernon, WA
Bronze – Tandem Cider, Early Day, Suttons Bay, MI
Bronze – McIntosh Orchards, Draught Cider Dry, South Haven, MI

Bronze – Tideview Cider, Tideview Festive Sparkler, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Bronze – Vandermill Cider, Hard Apple Cider, Spring Lake, MI
Bronze – Hideout Brewing Company, Hideout Cider, Grand Rapids, MI
Bronze – Northville Winery, Hard Cider, Northville, MI

Category 27b – English Cider (10 Entries)

Gold – Westcott Bay Cider Westcott Bay, Traditional Dry Cider, Friday Harbor, WA
Silver – Westcott Bay Cider, Westcott Bay Traditional Very Dry Cider, Friday Harbor, WA
Silver – Henney’s Cider Co., Frome Valley Sweet, Herefordshire, England

Silver – Oliver’s Cider House, Hereforshire Medium Cider, Herefordshire, England
Bronze – Aspall Cyders, Aspall Dry Cider, Suffolk, England
Bronze – Aspall Cyders, Aspall Medium Cider, Suffolk, England
Bronze – Oliver’s Cider House, Herefordshire Dry Cider, Herefordshire, England

Bronze – Henney’s Cider Co., Vintage, Herefordshire, England
Bronze – Snowdrift Cider Company, Dry Cider, East Wenatchee, WA

Category 27c – French Cider (1 Entry)

Gold – Aspall Cyders, Aspall Organic Cider, Suffolk, England

Category 27d – Common Perry (2 Entries)

Silver – Uncle John’s Fruit House Winery, Uncle John’s Perry, St. Johns, MI
Silver – Tulip Valley Vineyard and Orchard, Red Barn Perry Moulton’s Dry, Mount Vernon, WA

Category 27e – Traditional Perry (2 Entries)

Silver – Oliver’s Cider House, Herefordshire Dry Perry, Herefordshire, England

Bronze – Oliver’s Cider House, Blakeney Red Perry, Herefordshire, England

Category 28a – New England Cider (2 Entries)

Gold – Snowdrift Cider Company, Semi-Dry Cider, East Wenatchee, WA

Silver – Uncle John’s, New England Cider/Seasonal, St. Johns, MI

Category 28b – Fruit Cider (11 Entries)

Gold – Uncle John’s Fruit House Winery, Apple/Cherry Cider, St. Johns, MI
Silver – Uncle John’s Fruit House Winery, Apple/cCranberry Cider, St. Johns, MI
Silver – Aspall Cyders, Aspall Perronelle’s Blush Cider, Suffolk, England
Silver – Vandermill Cider, Apple Blueberry Cider, Spring Lake, MI
Silver – Robinette Cellars, Apple Cherry Cider, Grand Rapids, MI
Silver – Warrick Valley Winery and Distillery, Doc’s Draft Hard Pear Cider, Warwick, NY
Silver – Vandermill Cider, Apple Peach Cider, Spring Lake, MI
Silver – Northville Winery, Blue River, Northville, MI
Silver – Tideview Cider, Raspberry Cider, Halifax, Nova Scotia
Silver – Northville Winery, Crimson Dew, Northville, MI

Category 28c – Applewine (4 Entries)

Silver – Robinette Cellars, Apple Table Wine, Grand Rapids, MI
Silver – Uncle John’s Fruit House Winery, Applewine, St. Johns, MI

Category 28d – Specialty Cider or Perry (4 Entries)

Silver – Lehmans Orchard, Honeycrisp Hard Apple Cider, Niles, MI
Silver – Vandermill Cider, Black Tea Cider, Spring Lake, MI
Silver – Vandermill Cider,Michigan Wit, Spring Lake, MI

Category 2006-1 Macro Cider (8 Entries)

Silver – H.Weston and Sons Ltd., Old Rosie Cloudy Scrumpy, Herefordshire, England
Silver – Green Mountian Beverage, Woodchuck Draft Cider – Amber, Middlebury, VT
Silver – Green Mountian Beverage, Woodchuck Draft Cider – Oak Aged, Middlebury, VT
Silver – Green Mountian Beverage, Strongbow, Middlebury, VT
Silver – Green Mountian Beverage, Woodchuck Draft Cider – Granny Smith, Middlebury, VT
Silver – H.Weston and Sons Ltd., Stowford Press Medium Dry Draft, Herefordshire, England
Silver – Green Mountian Beverage, Wyder’s Pear Cider, Middlebury, VT
Silver – Original Sin, Original Sin Pear Cider, New York, NY

Category 2006-2a Intensified Cider & Perry – Prefermentation – Ice Cider (3 Entries)

Gold – Eden Ice Cider Co, Eden-Calville Blend, West Charleston, VT
Silver – Eden Ice Cider Co, Champlain Orchards- Honeycrisp, West Charleston, VT
Silver – Tideview Cider, Tideview Sparkling Ice Cider, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Category 2006-2b Intensified Cider and Perry – Postfermentation – Pommeau (6 Entries)

Gold – Blackstar Farms, Sirius Maple, Suttons Bay, MI
Gold – Warrick Valley Winery and Distillery, American Fruits Apple Liquor, Warwick, NY
Silver – Uncle John’s Fruit House Winery, Apple Dessert Wine, St. Johns, MI
Silver – Aeppeltreow Winery, Poirissimo Traditional, Burlington, WI
Silver – Robinette Cellars, Dessert Apple Wine, Grand Rapids, MI
Silver – Blackstar Farms, Sirius Pear, Suttons Bay, MI

Category 2006-3a Distilled – Eau de vie (2 Entries)

Silver – Warrick Valley Winery and Distillery, American Fruits Pear Brandy, Warwick, NY
Silver – Uncle John’s Fruit House Winery, Vodka From Apples, St. Johns, MI

Category 2006-3b Distilled – Brandy Oak Aged (1 Entry)

Gold – Uncle John’s Fruit House Winery, Apple Brandy, St. Johns, MI

Category 2009 – Non Alcoholic Sparkling Cider (2 Entries)

Gold – Vandermill Cider, VanderMill NA, Spring Lake, MI

Best Of Show

Best Of Show – Uncle John’s Fruit House Winery, Uncle John’s Hard Cider, St. Johns, MI

Honorable Mention – Warwick Valley Winery, American Fruits Apple Liquor, Warwick, NY

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The following information passed along to me about the Fifth Annual Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition. This is the only North American competition with an emphasis on cider and perry only. Even the beer, mead and distillation entries are required to be derived from apple or pear. Nice!



The Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association is pleased to announce its call for entries for the Fifth Annual Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition.  This Pro-Am competition has divisions for both commercial and noncommercial producers and is open to ciders, perries, meads, beers, and commercial distillates, provided they are made with apples or pears.  There are nineteen categories of entry.  For traditionalists this competition includes a category for Standard Cider & Perry (with five subcategories). The Standard category has requirements that the entry be produced from a minimum of 85% juice, not include both sugar and water (or sugar syrup and water) in the list of ingredients, and not have added flavor.  The Association reserves the unrestricted right to submit commercial entries in this category to testing to verify conformity to requirements.

Judging for the competition will take place at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Saturday, December 12 , 2009.   Entries must be received at the drop-off/ship-to location between Monday, November 23, 2009 and Tuesday, December 8, 2009.

Most entry categories included in this competition conform to BJCP style guideline categories:


20. Fruit Beer. Restricted to beers made with either apples or pears only.
23. Specialty Beer. Restricted to beers made with either apples or pears only, but may include other  ingredients.


25A. Cyser (Apple Melomel). Apple Juice and honey-no other ingredients.
25C. Other Fruit Melomel. (Pear) Pear Juice or blend with pear juice and no
other ingredients.
26C. Open Category Mead (must contain apple or pear)

Standard Cider & Perry

27A. Common Cider
27B. English Cider
27C. French Cider
27D. Common Perry
27E. Traditional Perry

Specialty Cider & Perry

28A. New England Cider

28B. Fruit Cider
28C. Applewine
28D. Other Specialty Cider/Perry

Some additional categories in this competition are not recognized by the BJCP:

2006-1 Macro Cider or Perry (see full details of how this is defined in the entry packet)

2006-2 Intensified Cider or Perry

A.    Prefermentation (Ice Cider) (Open to commercial and noncommercial

B.      Postfermentation (Pommeau) (Open to commerical division only)

2006-3 Distilled (Open to commercial division only)
A. Eau de vie
B. Brandy (Oak Aged)

In accordance with this competition’s custom, and in keeping with the Association’s mission to promote and educate, there will also be a training seminar for judges the evening before the judging.  This is free to competition staff, including judges and stewards. Any remaining space available will be offered first come first reserved for a nominal fee of $15.00 to anyone else wishing to participate and benefit from this opportunity.  The number of extra spots has been increased slightly this year but it is best to notify Rex Halfpenny as soon as possible if you’re interested.  The seminar will take place in the Pearl Room on the second floor of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Friday, December 11 from 7PM until 9PM Eastern Time.

If you would like to participate in the judging, you must contact competition organizer Rex Halfpenny (mibeerguyd@aol.com) and provide the following information.

– -Name and contact information

– -Commercial producer affiliation if any

– -Judging experience; novice, experienced, advanced, BJCP rank (if
applicable).  (It is customary to pair less experienced judges with more experienced judges).

– -Style categories that you are best qualified to judge

– -Style categories entered (this is used to ensure that judges will not evaluate their own products)

Each entry must include an entry form attached to the bottle with a rubber band and the appropriate entry free. Noncommerical entries are $10 for the first entry, $7 for the second, and $5 for each subsequent entry.  Commercial entries are $50 per entry ($35 for members of the Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association).  To encourage international participation the entry fee will be waived again this year for entries produced and shipped from outside North America.  Entrants are still responsible for paying their own shipping and duty costs.

Each entry must include a minimum of 24 ounces (or 750ml, i.e. two 12- ounce bottles). It is suggested that at least two containers are entered (regardless of size). This gives the judges the opportunity to sample your entry from a fresh bottle should it be elevated to the second round Best of Show (BOS) judging. The second bottle may also be used by first round judges should they perceive a problem with the contents of the first bottle.

To aid in maintaining fairness of blind judging commercial entries will be poured out of sight of judges and identified by a randomly assigned identification number. Noncommercial entries will be poured at judging tables and must be sent in bottles free of permanent labels or markings.

For the full entry packet please email the Association’s competition chair Rex Halfpenny (mibeerguyd@aol.com) ,  lead registrar Jeff Carlson (carlsonj@gvsu.edu), or find it online at http://www.michiganbeerguide.com.

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Ivar's Salmon House 2nd Annual Fall Cider Celebration

Ivar's Salmon House 2nd Annual Fall Cider Celebration

Ivar’s Salmon House and the Northwest Cider Society are co-sponsoring the 2nd Annual Fall Cider Celebration. I didn’t make it last year but I sure hope to go this year. They have a terrific line up of ciders this which seems to be expanding to accommodate our growing Northwest cider selection.

Here is the event info from the Facebook event page. Remember you have to RSVP and pre-purchase tickets from Brown Paper Tickets. Do it before they run out this will be a big event.

Thursday, November 12, 2009
5:30pm – 8:30pm
Ivar’s Salmon House
401 NE Northlake Way
Seattle, WA

View Map

Ivar’s Salmon House invites you! Join us for a special event in celebration of the harvest season. Sample from a refreshing selection of regional and international hard ciders accompanied by an array of hors d’oeuvres prepared by Chef Jason Bray. More than 25 varietals of ciders will be poured during the evening.

New this year – vote and select a “People’s Choice” awarded for best cider.

Whether you like sweet, dry or semi-dry or are new to the world of hard cider, there’s something for everyone!

Featured ciders include:
Aspall Cider | Blue Mountain Cider | Crispin Cider | Domaine Dupont | Eaglemount Cider | J.K. Scrumpy | Red Barn Cider | Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider | Spire Mountain Cider | Wandering Aengus Cider | Westcott Bay Cider | Wildfire Cider — and more!

Sample hors d’oeuvres menu*:
* Seared large scallop; Granny Smith apple compote
* Shucked oyster; hard cider Mignonette
* Alder grilled salmon, apple brandy glaze
* Cider braised pork belly; apple gastrique
* Pork sliders, apple chutney
* Domestic and imported cheeses
* Mixed seasonal vegetables
* Cider braised chicken
* Imported and domestic cured meats
* Cider glazed shrimp

Cost: $30

*Co-sponsored by NW Cider Society
**Advance tickets only, no evening walk-ins please.

To RSVP visit: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/85665

NOTE: No one under 21 years old will be admitted.

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I’ll be micro blogging my own small 2 day cider adventure up to Westcott Bay Orchards on beautiful San Juan Island over on Twitter and the Facebook group. Check the links below to follow. Questions and comments welcome.



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1st annual Artisan Cider Festival @ Portland Nursery’s Annual Apple Tasting
October 10th – 11th and 17th-18th
10am to 5pm

Portland Nursery
5050 SE Stark St
Portland, OR 97215-1791
(503) 231-5050
Map Link

Two weekends of Artisan Cider tasting and heirloom apple fun. Some of the highlights look to be tastings of 20 or so Traditional Ciders from around the country, Cidermaking demonstrations, as well as heirloom cider apple and fresh pressed juice tasting.

This should be good and an excellent intro to craft/artisan/traditional cider. Participating ciders are suppose to be “Artisan Ciders” which they have defined as producers that start with whole apples. You are sure to see some of the best of the best from around the country and can even purchase and take home cider distributed in Oregon.

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On October 3rd 2009 go check out one of Washington’s newest cider makers Tieton Ciderworks @ the Fresh Hop Festival in Yakima.

I’ll be writing more on Tieton Ciderworks very soon! Until then check their website and blog.

Blog: Tieton Cider Works
Link: http://tietonciderworks.blogspot.com/2009/09/come-visit-us-tieton-cider-works-will.html

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