Tieton, Wash -- It's crush time near Yakima and there's not a grape in sight. Plenty of apples though.
Tieton Cider Works doesn't just press apples into liquid gold -- this place grows them as well. Craig Campbell is a third generation Yakima farmer, who's been growing apples organically for 25 years.
"It's kinda caught us all by surprise. When we started this I had no idea it was going to be a big deal," said Campbell.
Great cider comes from 'wild, gnarly inedible apples' -- according to the Tieton Cider Works website. Cider makers call the good ones 'spitters'. PCC Chef Lynne Vea found out why after tasting a bitter heirloom. 'Grounders' are another thing cider makers look for. When apples start falling from trees, sugars are at the right level and it's time to harvest.
According to Craig, there are many reasons why hard cider is the drink of the moment:
"It's partially with the demographic, the younger people, I think it fits well between beer and wine, it's gluten free, that's big. And as there's more and more cideries and more selection, that's also built the market. It's magic right now."
That magic can be bottled: Tieton Cider Works makes a huge variety of hard cider.
Robert McCurdy, Production Manager of Tieton Cider Works, explained the reason for the variety: "What drives us is to showcase the Yakima Valley. We grow all sorts of different fruit, we grow hops, we have all kinds of different agricultural products and we really showcase that with our ciders."
He poured one for Chef Lynne that might make folks kick their pumpkin spice latte habit. A smoked pumpkin flavored cider that is not spicy. Pairing food with cider is a big trend right now.
"I can think of a ton of ways I can pair this with a dish and it would just work with the acidity and the sweets. Perfect!" Vea said.
So the next time you can't decide what kind of wine to bring to a dinner party, bring something brewed from our Official State Fruit instead.