At Finnriver, we farm and ferment across a combined 80 acres of Certified Organic farmland and orchard in the rural Chimacum Valley, on Washington State’s north Olympic Peninsula. Our two farm locations (the 33 acre 'Home Farm' and our 50 acre Orchard) are 3 miles apart but both border salmon-bearing Chimacum Creek and both are permanently protected as farmland forever.
The Finnriver Orchard is a 50 acre organic farm located on a historic former dairy just south of the Chimacum crossroads. The fields and structures have been renovated to create a farm-based gathering space for people of all ages to reconnect to the land-- with a ten acre heritage apple orchard, a working farm collaborative, the Hay Barn event space, a public tasting room and our Cider Garden pavilion and patios.
Our organic orchard features 6,000+ organic heirloom and traditional cider apple trees, with more than 24 old European and early American varieties planted over ten acres in tresslised pyramidal pruning, for open centers that maximize light exposure. Our trees grow on semi-dwarf rootstock that allows us to hand harvest and care for the trees at a human scale.
We craft our Orchard Series ciders from the Finnriver orchard to celebrate the diversity of these apples, to share the beauty and bounty of this land, and to offer a taste of the complexity and character of this rare heritage fruit. We also source organic and homestead fruit from across the Pacific Northwest for our extensive line-up of contemporary, traditional and botanical ciders.
Along with the apple orchard, the farm grows over 20 acres of diverse organic grains, such as quinoa, wheat and buckwheat. We also keep a flock of geese and sheep to assist in browsing grass and managing weed growth.
We welcome visits to come walk the orchard, learn about the land, and enjoy a taste of what we grow!
Complex, charismatic cider starts with the varieties of apples selected for fermentation. The apples we seek originate with healthy soil, clean water, clear air and the lively light of the sun. There are multiple streams of fruit that flow into Finnriver and the following explanation is for those who are curious about the origins of our apples.
At the Home Farm, the farmers tend a small homestead orchard planted over 25 years ago by Lige and Kay Christian, the previous owners of the land. The intent of this orchard was to experiment with a wide range of varieties and celebrate the diverse uses for different kinds of apples. It was Lige who brought us our first bottle of homemade hard cider and inspired our cidery endeavor! Now we harvest some of these ‘original’ apples for blending into our more traditional ciders, apples like the Yarlington Mill, Brown Snout, and Harry Masters Jersey.
Three miles up the valley, at what we now call the Finrniver Orchard, we have planted a more extensive 10 acre organic orchard, where we are specializing in growing traditional cider apple varieties -- bittersweet and bittersharp fruits high in acids and/or tannins and full of complexity. The first block of trees we planted were actually transplants from the Skagit Valley. When Drew Zimmerman at Red Barn Cidery retired in 2012, we hand dug all 937 of his beloved trees and relocated them to the farm. These are mostly French and English cider trees that are rare in the commercial market and prized among traditional cidermakers. Drew came to visit the orchard every other week for over a year to make sure we were taking good care of those trees as they converted from conventional to organic management and to grow their roots deep in these new soils.
We also source local apples from our neighbors across the Olympic Peninsula during our Calling All Apples campaign in October. A local apple wrangler collects backyard apples that are not suitable for fresh eating and we then ferment this eclectic crew of apples and blend them into our annual Farmstead Cider. We delegate proceeds from sales of these bottles to local education programs and we enjoy featuring a cider that seeks to capture the authentic apple heritage of this community.
We also contract for cider apples with small organic orchardists around the state, in regions ranging from the Okanogan to the Dungeness Valley.
The bulk of our apples, used in the foundation blend for many of our ciders, are Certified Organic dessert apples from eastern Washington's Yakima Valley and Columbia Basin. We source tart varieties, high in acids, for a clean, bright cider. These include varieties such as Granny Smith and Pink Lady. We are able to purchase organic 'seconds' (fruit that is not picture perfect) and help create a demain for more organically grown fruit.
We believe that the finished cider bottle carries the vital elements of earth, air, water and light. Finnriver strives to be part of an agriculture and food culture that honors these elements by farming organically and with salmon-safe practices that support the soil and streams.
Every day we ask ourselves, how can we serve the land with cider?