It’s thirsty work, seeing the sights of the Pacific coast; thank goodness for the Olympic Peninsula Cider Route, accessible in a single day from Seattle via a gorgeous ferry ride to Bainbridge Island (or from Edmonds to Kingston) followed by about an hour’s drive. Here, a trio of cideries all within 10 miles of one another are employing heirloom apples, old-world techniques, and modern twists to make truly outstanding ciders, available to sample in rustic tasting rooms.
In honor of Road Trip Week, take a tour with Lori Bailey, whose illustrated snapshots of the area’s scenery and fermented beverages will have you salivating. As a way to spend a late afternoon on the Olympic Peninsula, it doesn't get much better. (Just don't forget to catch your ferry home, Bailey warns.)
1893 S Jacob Miller Road, Port Townsend, WA 98368
Pulling up the gravel path past a yurt onto a grassy lawn, you might need to scan the red farmhouse twice before landing on a rustic sign identifying Eaglemount Wine and Cider. Round the building and enter the tasting room, though, and the unassuming company’s ciders will speak for themselves. Heirloom apples from a homestead orchard dating to 1883 make for unique and adventurous varieties like Quince, Raspberry Hopped, and Homestead Dry. Sip your way through a tasting flight, talk fermentation with the staff, and give resident farm-dog Emily a good scratch behind the ears before decamping to the next waypoint.
220 Pocket lane, Port Townsend, WA 98368
Alpenfire takes old-world traditions seriously, and a respect for the craft shows in every aspect of the certified-organic production. At the wood-paneled tasting counter, savor crisp, direct flavors coaxed from traditional cider apples, resulting in the likes of palate-cleansingly dry Pirate's Plank; Spark, a semi-sweet sipper; and beguiling Calypso, boosted with blackberries and aged in rum barrels. Or take your glass of rosé cider a'wandering through the green orchard and imagine, just for a moment, that you've stumbled upon the European countryside on your way west.
124 Center Road, Chimacum, WA 98325
Nestled in the Chimacum Valley is a stretch of farmland set against a stunning backdrop of foothills and wide open sky. Here you'll find Finnriver, part of a certified organic farm with deep roots in its surrounding community. Finnriver’s wines, liqueurs, and ciders — from funky Spanish-style Sidra to a semi-sweet Farmstead Cider made with fruit gleaned from neighbors — are pretty widely distributed around the Seattle area, but a weekend visit to the garden of origin yields even greater rewards: samples of limited editions, bites from local food makers, lawn games, and magnificent views.