snowdrift cider co.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting Snowdrift Cider Co. in the Wenatchee Valley above the Columbia River. Harvest is usually in the fall and the orchard was pretty bare this time of year but I still thought it looked gorgeous. Owner, Tim Larsen showed me the ropes around the cidery and explained their cider making process and fermentation.
Snowdrift does everything in this facility from growing fruit, producing cider, marketing their product and distribution. During harvest time in the beginning of September through November, Snowdrift is pressing and bringing juice into this facility. They pour the juice into tanks, let them ferment and age typically from 8 months to a year before they are bottled and sold. The barrel room is kept quite cold which is nice because instead of using chemicals Tim uses temperature control to prevent any spoilage. Some of the ciders are then moved into barrels and others are produced Méthode Champenoise.
If you are not familiar with Méthode Champenoise- don't feel left out, I will explain in the fastest way possible. Simply said, after aging the cider in the tanks, they do a secondary fermentation in the bottle. After the cider is done fermenting in the bottle which carbonates the bottle too, they are then put on racks where they are riddled. After the riddling process they freeze the neck, open it up, the yeast shoots up and then they proceed to cork the bottle. The champagne process gives the cider a lot of yeast ester which rounds out the flavor profile much like wine.
The Winter Red has sold faster than any cider they've put out on the market. I believe at this point they are completely sold out of their 2012 vintage. Snowdrift has created the most delicious, unique cider with unknown research variety apples shipped from France. They were way too acidic to eat so Tim decided to experiment with them and voila! Magic. They hit a range of flavors that cider apples simply cannot. Keep in mind, Snowdrift does not flavor any of their ciders. The Winter Red is acidic, sweet, with a champagne-level carbonation. With a whole new range of flavor characteristics not usually derived from cider apples you will find notes such as strawberry rhubarb and cranberry. Don't get your hopes up though! Tim made about 60 cases of the 2012 harvest which should be just about gone now. There will be more for the 2013 vintage so make sure to keep your eye out for it! It's phenomenal. The 2013 vintage will change a bit but the predominant flavor characteristics should stay similar.
Also made Méthod Champenoise is Snowdrift's delicious Pear Wine- AKA Perry. Perry Pears are very tannic, tart and astringent. Although they are not the smoothest pears to eat they are excellent for making Pear Wine. They take a lot of aging, they are difficult to work with and some can be fairly astringent even after fermentation. Check out the awesome video below to see everything I just wrote about in action and make sure to check out Snowdrift Cider Co.'s amazing set of ciders at Whole Foods, PCC, or various restaurants in the Seattle area.