Cidermakers enter this industry in a variety of ways and not always on purpose. Daniel Washam, owner of d’s Wicked Cider in Kennewick, Washington, accidentally made his foray into what is now a thriving business.

While attending a convention in Seattle with his wife, Heidi, they dined at a Seattle restaurant that served beer. Neither of them liked beer, so they begrudgingly tried “apple beer” hoping the flavor would be more apple than hops.

“We both enjoyed the apple beer so much, I tried to recreate it at home,” Washam says. “My efforts were completely trial and error.”

Developing a Recipe

He read books, watched YouTube videos and still couldn’t come up with the right flavor, a riff on the apple beer flavor. Then at the end of one of the videos, the host signed off saying he had to go make some cider for his wife. That clicked with Washam, he refined his recipe as a cider instead of as a beer and landed his first commercial sale in 2013.

A wine representative took a sample of his cider to the now defunct Fox and Bear Public House in nearby Richland and the owner wanted to put it on tap. The story just got better after that — Budweiser soon approached Washam about distributing his cider.

“At that time, I was making five gallons at a time, and the Budweiser rep ordered 600 gallons,” says Washam. “I had to ramp up in a hurry.”

Making Cider Full-Time

Because d’s Wicked Cider’s production for 2017 was 90,000 gallons and since Washam is proud of his product, he’s no longer spending time with Sun River Vintners, his family-owned winery that kicked off his interest in fermentation. “Both are fun because I think I have yeast-wrangling in my blood,” says Washam. “But to be a pioneer in the cider industry was my choice.”

Fast forward to September when Washam made his first international sale with a cider shipment to Taiwan and it sounds like China will be next.

With names for cider like Green Apple, Baked Apple and Cranny Granny, visitors to d’s Wicked Cider House have some flavor treats in store. Three of his creations won at the 2017 Best of the Northwest cider competition for Sip Northwest: double gold for Green Apple for “best modern apple,” silver for Baked Apple and bronze for Cranny Granny.