We are continually asked: how did you get into the cider business? The answer is easy: we were in the apple growing business. Period. If we had not been a farming family, cider would not have held an interest.
The fruit that is used in Tieton Cider Works cider comes from Craig and Sharon Campbell’s Harmony Orchards. This land has been in our family since the 1920’s when our grandfather planted his first trees in Tieton, Washington. We take our stewardship of the land seriously and have been farming organically for the last 25 years.
As a third generation Yakima Valley farmer with a degree in horticulture from Washington State University and over thirty five years’ experience in marketing produce, Craig has always been curious about the back-story: the history, production, science, and industry of food. Growing different varieties of trees is truly what makes Craig happy and he is always looking for new varieties to plant and nurture. In 2008 he was introduced to cider apple varieties, those gnarly, inedible wild apple varieties needed to make great cider. He planted twenty five varieties in a test block of two acres to study the growing patterns: did each fit into the existing bloom and harvest schedule of the farm, what were the flavor profiles of the fruit and how did that variety add to the cider that we wanted to make.
From that original twenty five, Craig has narrowed it down to the eight most suitable for commercial production, never closing the door on annual experimentation when he learns of a new variety. We now have the largest acreage of cider apples and Perry pears in the state of Washington with 55 acres.
The Yakima Valley is the largest apple producing region in Washington and there is an infrastructure existing in our valley that provides many advantages when you are making cider. Whether we are storing our apples in controlled atmosphere, sending our apricots and cherries to be processed, or selecting the complementary hops and pumpkin for our seasonal ciders – it all exists in the valley we call home.
A love of land, food and drink has inspired us to make cider with the fruit we are growing at our ranch, Harmony Orchards. We know the ciders we make are an expression of the harvest and reflective of the fruit and the place that it is grown.