As the first craft cidery in Washington’s South Sound region, Whitewood Cider Co. braves a community of winemakers, brewers and distillers to make an apple-infused mark on the state’s capitol city, Olympia.
While fermenting craft beverages has made a comeback in the region as of late, Whitewood Cider Co. co-owner and cidermaker Dave White has always had his heart set on apples. “My family is from Wenatchee and my grandpa worked in the apple industry. We were always in and around it,” he explains.
White’s family history coupled with a personal background in craft coffee-making weaved together to an eventual meeting point: craft cider. “Craft cider and craft coffee are very similar,” says White, whose interest in the caffeinated lifeblood and its vast following propelled him into cider blogging – a vocation that has gained an impressive online presence itself.
During this period of educational growth, White also became a founding member – and still remains an active part of the board – of the Northwest Cider Association, which he says started as a “sort of grassroots effort,” and has since then escalated into a group of over 80 members dedicated to the beverage.
The journey of writing about and supporting cider inevitably transitioned into making cider as Whitewood Cider Co., established by White and his partner Heather Ringwood in 2012. And yes, the cidery’s name did indeed develop as a hybrid of the partners’ surnames.
With an array of traditional and heirloom-blend ciders, as well as the South Sounder – a crowd-sourced cider made with 100% South Puget Sound apples – White has done well to remember his eastern Washington roots while growing his relationships with South Sound farmers. In Olympia, “We have a community that supports local producers,” explains White. “They’re our friends.”
This same sense of loyalty is shown through White’s devotion to using almost primarily apples in his cider. “We don’t normally use anything outside the apple family. We tend to stick to the traditional side of stuff,” says White. However, he went on to share that this year’s South Sounder features a couple-hundred pounds of quince, “also closely connected to the apple and pear family,” he explains.
Perhaps in the near future we’ll see more fruits debuted in Whitewood’s ciders, but for now we are content with the turnout, as is the surrounding community, which White says has learned to love the apple-infused beverage.
White also says the cidery is looking to move to a larger space, hopefully with a tasting room to come soon. “We’ll potentially share a space with a brewer,” says White. “We all get along really well and support each other. It’s more friendly than competitive.”