In a valley known for its wine, Blue Mountain Cider Co. stands apart, located in the beautiful Walla Walla Valley on the Oregon side in Milton-Freewater. The company has renovated the historic Watermill Building which serves as the cidery and tasting room, where cidermaker Abe Currin has spent the last 10 years perfecting his skills.
“The majority of my training has come through time on the job,” he says. “It’s amazing when you look back 10 years to see the growth and development that Blue Mountain Cider has seen. We continue to find new ways to enhance our techniques and production.”
The company only uses juice from fresh-pressed apples from the Walla Walla Valley, many coming from the Earl Brown Family Orchards, the estate property for the cidery, now run by the third generation of apple farmers.
1) Which of your current ciders is your favorite? Why?
My all-time favorite Blue Mountain Cider is our Estate Winesap. The Winesap apple has been grown in our area for over 100 years. In fact one of the main north/south county roads is called Winesap Road. It was last grown commercially in the Walla Walla Valley in the late 1980s. Currently we are the last orchard that still has acres producing in the area. This apple really speaks to the history of our valley.
2) Walla Walla is known for its wine which your company makes as well with the Watermill Winery. What was the attraction to cider?
I started working for Blue Mountain Cider around 10 years ago and worked in both our cidery and winery. While it was exciting to see all the growth of the wine industry in our valley, I wanted to work with something a little different from everyone else nearby. I decided to focus my craft on cider because I wanted to be a part of an industry that was just taking its first new steps in the modern times. I was very curious to see where this new cider phenomenon would integrate into the growing craft-infused world. With over 100 wineries in the Walla Walla Valley, it is awesome to be known as “The Cidery” of the valley. We take great pride in that.
3) What are you seeing that is new in cidermaking?
In my opinion, one of the trends we are seeing is the evolution of the cider drinker’s palate. In the past, the common cider drinker had only tried a few ciders and really had little expectation on what they were looking for. More and more we are seeing people who have a clear idea of sweetness, acid, tannin that they prefer to drink. As a cidermaker, it makes it more rewarding to cater to these specific flavor profiles.
4) What is your favorite cider pairing?
The Estate Winesap is a cider that we consider a heritage apple, that has some nice tannins with a balanced set of acid. This is definitely a drier cider that will show some hints of cinnamon on the nose. It pairs well with any type of roasted chicken and poultry.