Finnriver Farm & Cidery Journal
Community Apple Harvest
Gravenstein, Chehalis, Greensleeve, and Pippins. Northern Spy, Rubymac, Cortland, and Wolf river. The apple trees that dot the Olympic Peninsula—that grow in backyards, along sidewalks, on small farms—bear an abundance of fruit ripe with the potential to nourish a community. The Finnriver Farmstead cider is our humbled attempt to gather the harvest, connect our neighbors, and create some beauty of this bounty.
“The purpose of this cider in my heart is to give purpose to the fruit that grows in your yard,” Cidermaker Andrew Byers says of the Farmstead. “Trees have value. Fruit trees change a neighborhood. Local fruit is precious in that sense.”
A community apple harvest, to make a cider with the fruit of the season growing right here, was started by co-founders Crystie, Keith, and Eric before Finnriver began growing its own fruit. Community members were encouraged to donate their bruised and damaged fruit for a cider that would reflect and benefit us all (a portion of sales from our Farmstead fund educational programs in the community). Now, Andrew continues this tradition, gathering apples from Port Angeles to Quilcene and seeking out fruit with desired characteristics for cider. For several years, Andrew and his daughter Tesla did much of this harvesting, getting to know the trees and the people of this place. For the last two years, it has been a real community effort. Neighbors have been harvesting and bringing their fruit to us.
Apple Wrangler of the Olympic Peninsula and local tree lover Robert Laitman has found, harvested, and sold over 20,000 pounds of fruit to Finnriver. The entire cider making crew even went out for a harvest day at Huntingford Orchard last year. In addition to community donations, we have bought fruit from Lazy J Farm, Solstice Farm, The Lamb Farm, Wild Cat Farm, Vista Ridge Orchard, Vista Farm, Iron Root Orchard, and several others for this local cider.
“There are many versions of Farmstead that could be made here on the peninsula- depending on the fruit, the skills, the infrastructure provided to the fermentor,” Andrew says. “Finnriver Farmstead is the most pleasing edition I can grasp each year. Apples from real people, living around here, turned into cider by real people living around here, and consumed by real people living around here.”
Crafting the Farmstead involves pressing the fruit in house and lots of layering to achieve a great tasting cider. Most of the apples that are sourced for this cider are desert apples, which don’t lend a lot of complexity in flavor—just a lot of sugar. The hope is to find a blend of high acid fruit that pops. To do this, Andrew blends as many varieties as he can get his hands on. This year’s batch has over 50! Combining all these different fruits with different yeasts specifically chosen to highlight desirable qualities of the apples is where the art happens. And how the Farmstead is born.