An encore CIDRBOX of award-winning cider curated by Alpenfire Organic Hard Cider is available during June and will ship direct from their organic orchard and cidery in Port Townsend, Washington the week of June 19th • Alpenfire Organic Hard Cider was originally featured in our March 2017 CIDRBOX
As Washington state natives who grew up a short ferry ride away from the Canadian border, the Bishops—Nancy and Steve (known as Bear to his friends)—were introduced to cider by their neighbors to the North.
In 2001 they toured the cider countries of Europe to learn more about traditional production methods and discovered that many cideries were producing on a small scale, driven by family orchards. This was perfectly suited to what they had in mind.
And they learned something else, equally important: That true cider apples were key to producing the cider they loved to drink. A hard cider rich in tannins, lively acids, and aromatics that, when properly fermented, allowed the flavor of the fruit to shine through.
After studying with renowned UK cider producer and educator Peter Mitchell, Nancy and Bear invested in 900 French and English cider apple trees and laid down their first orchard acreage near the town of Port Townsend, just opposite Seattle on the other side of the Puget Sound. The Bishops committed to organic orcharding practices at the outset, and in 2007 Alpenfire became the first certified organic cidery in the Pacific Northwest.
Today the cider varieties that the Bishops planted in the early 2000s continue to thrive in the low nitrogen, bare bones soil of the Olympic Peninsula where they grow their Dabinett, Foxwhelp, Yarlington Mill, Kingston Black, Brown Snout, Vilberie, Muscadet de Dieppe and other heirloom apples. In recent years they have also laid in early American Varieties and five types of Perry Pear trees.
From this fruit has emerged a line of cider varieties named after the wildfires that Bear and his son Philipe once battled as Wildland fire fighters, or Hotshots, across the US, and which gave birth to the cidery’s name: Alpenfire.