This past weekend, while in eastern Washington for a memorial service (read about that here, if you like), I made stopping by Snowdrift Cider Co a requirement. You see, most of my family members grew up in Eastern Washington, my parents went to rival high schools in East Wenatchee and Wenatchee, and my grandparents owned an apple orchard that they sold to their neighbor Fred Hurst (no relation) upon retirement.
(For the rest of this post, I’m going to call both Wenatchee and East Wenatchee “Wenatchee”. With apologies to those residents, no one outside of those towns will know the difference.)
From an early age, I was surrounded by apples. With the acres and acres of my grandparent’s farm a place for free rein, my siblings and I rode behind or drove the riding lawnmower from one end to the other, exploring the gully, trees, and old sheds. We heard about Apple Blossom and saw pictures of the parades. We even attended once. While Kent, WA, is definitely my home town, Wenatchee is the closest to a second home I’ll ever have.
Last year, while looking up addresses for all Washington state cideries that shipped to Oregon, I was surprised to see Snowdrift Cider Co just north of Pangborn Airport.
“Wait a second,” I thought. “My grandparents place at 8th and Nile was pretty close to that airport, right? How weird would it be if…”
A few clicks later and yep, there Snowdrift was, just a few miles north of where I spent most of my childhood summers. While the company wasn’t around in the ’80s and ’90s, I’m betting the trees were. I felt a kinship of sorts with Snowdrift and vowed the next time I made it to the Apple Capital Of The World (yep, look it up), I’d stop by what I was sure was a fabulous tasting room.
After a quite a moving memorial service, my wife and I borrowed a car and headed up Grant Road, with Google Map directions at the ready. For about six miles we drove straight, past the airport, past dozens then hundreds then I’m sure thousands of apple trees. We passed a “circle thingy” (according to my wife) a “roundabout” (according to me) and a “traffic circle” (according to Google Maps) and finally came upon a a two-foot Snowdrift Cider Co logo.
How were we sure it was the Snowdrift Cider Co logo? Well, their logo is quite spectacular. It’s clean, distinctively shaped, is one of only a few solid colors, has an apple tree on it and looks a bit like a family crest. It’s easily one of the best WA/OR cider logos on the market, and I made sure to mention that to its designer later.
At the logo, we turned right down a gravel road, again between rows of apple trees (should I stop saying apple trees? We were in the middle of orchards, okay?). A couple hundred feet down down on the left, I saw a shed about the size of a two-car garage and a modern-looking, wood house maybe a hundred feet past.
Was this it? Is there a sign on the shed? (There was.) Should we be looking for something speci…and then it dawned on me. We were in the midst of the apple capital of the world in the middle of an apple orchard, OF COURSE the shed next to me was their tasting room. It was probably also their fermentation room, their pressing room, and their storage room. While the fancy bottles I’m used to seeing at Bushwhacker might look like they came off some huge assembly line, they were probably filled and prepared by a few people or, if those people were lucky, an actual bottling company off site.
The quaint shed was everything I mentioned above. My wife and I stepped out of the car, walked toward the side shed door, and watched a gentleman with gray/white hair open it up. He invited us in, and in we went.
Stacked on pallets along each of the walls were cases of each style Snowdrift carries, with a smaller table near the door. This table had five varieties of Snowdrift, and, just after who I assume was the man’s son and later discovered to be a fellow cider maker and creator of the aforementioned label, we sampled the Dry, Semi-Dry, Orchard Select, Cliffbreaks, and Perry. The latter was more of a pear wine, and all were delicious.
We bought a Dry, Orchard Select and one of the last two Winter Reds (the Red was strawberry sweet and should have not been drank with mexican food like we did), and a Cliffbreaks Blend for our buddy Ed Allen.
We thanked the owners, grabbed their cards, talked a possible Second Sunday Cider later this year and headed to Abby’s Legendary Pizza for dinner.
All cidery visits should be this fun.