(tiny crabapples that pack so much punch!)
This vintage – 2015 – will be the first season that all of our apples for our cider come from our own orchard. (Well – ok full disclosure – we couldn’t say no to a bin of precious cider-fruit that was offered to us by a friend & top-notch apple grower from Lake Country) but other than that, every drop of apple in our ciders will have been grown right on our own 40 acres.
Of course the majority of the apples have always been grown by us, but as we’ve patiently waited for our grafted trees to produce, we have turned to purchasing the rare bittersweet and bittersharp cider apples from other growers.
It will be rewarding, but also limiting – next spring there will be less Prospector to release as it is made predominantly from traditional cider fruit. In a world of commercially produced, mass-scale-always-available products, it can be difficult for people to get their heads around the fact that we can only make what we have certain apples available for, and that it can only be made when those apples are ripe, which is once a year. A small supply of that fruit means a small batch of that cider.
But for other people, working with what we have is part of the charm, and the dedication to quality is what sets us apart.
And not just the relatively large hyslop crabapples that are more common to use in cider, but even our teeny-tiny pollinator crabapples. Crabapples are unique in the intense tannin and flavour they add to cider, but the cost to pick them is easily ten times what it costs to pick the same amount of traditional apples. Considering our main apple pick is happening now it’s difficult to justify pulling the manpower for such a tedious job.
(Dolgo Crabapples we picked and pressed a few weeks ago)
We know very few cidermakers who deal with crabapples this small. But the ones we’ve heard of that do, like Snowdrift just over the border in Washington, make exceptional cider. So we are picking more of them than ever, allocating a crew to them alongside our main apple pick.
We hope that our dedication for picking, pressing, and fermenting such tiny fruit in order to glean those precious drops of tannic, spunky juice is one of the things that sets us apart – and more importantly, sets our ciders apart as well.