Cliff Clendenen, Clendenen’s Cider Works

One of my sweetest memories about Clendenen’s Cider Works is not one where I’m drinking the cider myself (although I do love ice cold cider on a hot day and vice versa as well).  My husband spent many years as a police officer in the Friendly City of Fortuna.  I guess when you are a police officer everything isn’t as friendly as it might seem…but that’s another story.

My husband has never been able to stand hot weather — and Fortuna can get toasty in the summer.  Imagine being really hot, carry about 20-30 lbs of extra equipment all of the time, and wearing a bullet proof vest (yes, back then it was optional equipment but I insisted…) — he would describe with great joy going to Clendenen’s Cider Works and buying an ice cold carton of apple cider and drinking it down in one go.  Cooling the body from the inside out — it doesn’t get any better than that!

So of course it was a pleasure to talk with Cliff Clendenen about the family business and learn a bit about his family roots.  His son Drew is following in dad’s footsteps so we should be able to gulp down the icy cider on hot days for many more years.  To listen to the interview with Cliff, click here.

Check out their website here!

Wrangletown Cider Company, Pat Knittel

Jennifer and Pat...before we started drinking the cider and wine she brought!

Jennifer and Pat…before we started drinking the cider and wine she brought!

It’s the label that will catch your eye — so many new start up hard cider companies it’s hard to keep up. A couple of women wrangling in the streets — well, if you know your Humboldt County history you know that Freshwater was once called Wrangletown.  Story goes there were a couple of women who had taken to brawling in the streets of the town.  Now why did we ever decide that Freshwater was a better name for that town?

Pat Knittel, with a heavy duty background producing wine in Napa and Sonoma — wanted to come home to Wrangletown — in Humboldt County where she was raised.  And she realized that hard cider was her path home (she still makes wine – North Story Wines– but a gal’s got to branch out, right?)  So there we were at about 10:30 a.m. tasting up the hard cider which was lovely and dry — pairing meals with hard cider is the next new thing.

One last word of advice (besides don’t start sipping hard cider at 10:30 a.m.) — if you have only tasted those mass produced hard ciders and think they taste like bubbly ultra sweet apple juice with an edge — give Wrangletown a try!  You’ll be doing cider pairings instead of wine — a whole new world will open up, and it’s a delicious one.

Listen Here

Check out her website

Dave Feral, Feral Family Farm

If you have cruised the Arcata Farmers Market in the fall — you have probably seen Dave Feral from Feral Family Farm.  He is whipping up delicious fruit juice blends that are delicious and fresh — and are saving some of the “ugly fruit,” helping them to fulfill their destiny with humans in Humboldt.  So many decades of grocery stores training us to choose unblemished fruit and veg –no matter how undelicious they are — and we are the losers.  Some of the best tasting fruit has a little scab here, a little bruise there — and many of these are ending up in the fruit juice produced by the Feral Family.

Listen here!

Tom Wrigley Apple Orchard

I really love apples — even more than a beautiful pastry or fine chocolate (which I love just fine as well) but apples just have it all —

 they have that sweet burst of juice, and if the apple is my kind of apple, you also get that burst of tart.  The juice quenches your thirst, and chewing the crunchiness of it is so satisfying.  The sound of someone biting an apple will send you scurrying to the market to find one of your own.  I’m hoping that just reading this description will be enough to send you looking for an apple — but what type to buy?

That’s the thing about apples — how can they all be so apple-ey, and still be so different?  Some apples are sweet and cloying, some tart, some good for baking, some better for eating in the orchard.  Some apples that are used for hard cider are not even fit for fresh consumption but are used for cider only.  Is there another fruit that has such a range?  There are entire websites dedicated to helping you decide.

And — I have a new favorite — the Waltana.  This is an apple that was created by Albert Etter (yes, one of those Ettersburg Etters), and Tom Wrigley has produced a Red Waltana — and that is my new favorite.  A burst of juicy tart deliciousness and I might be in apple heaven.  A walk in Tom Wrigley’s orchard and there’s no doubt I’m in heaven.  Give all apples a try — they each have something unique to offer us.

Listen to the interview with Tom Wrigley.

David Martinek, Apple Growing in Eureka

I met David Martinek since he is a new Master Food Preserver in Humboldt County — graduated in the class of 2014!  When we started talking about preserving certain foods it became clear that David had access to apples, lots of apples — including those lovely red fleshed varieties that were bred by Albert Etters for whom Ettersburg is named.  David makes apple sauce, apple syrup, apple butter, apple cider (both sweet and hard) and freezes gallons of juice every year.  He does this all on a relatively small plot of land in Myrtletown in Eureka.  If you want to find out more about David Martinek and his apple growing passion, check out this interview.

Thimbleberry Farms, Bill and Willie Welton

You-pick farms have been around forever — I have pleasant memories of picking ripe apricots (that’s something you haven’t eaten lately I’ll bet) right off the tree in Brentwood CA — Brentwood is now covered with houses and the You Pick places are few and far between.  Well if you want to relive one of your favorite activities from your childhood, hopefully with children in tow — look no further than Thimbleberry Farms in Fortuna.  Bill and Willie Welton have welcomed several generations to their 6 acres of berries, apples, pears, cherries, figs and more.  Willie kindly gave me a bag of loganberries and my neighbor is now hooked on the jam…so you know the deal — he has to go pick next year and I’ll make him the jam.  Bill took Jessica Eden and I through the orchard and we munched crisp mouthwatering apples as he told us about the varieties, and Bill loaded me down with enough apples to make 2 years worth of apple butter and enough to share for holiday gifts.  Keep your eye on Craig’s List, that’s how Willie lets everyone know when this year’s bounty is ripe!

listen to the interview


Fieldbrook Valley Apple Farms, Betty Lovie

Betty Lovie talks about how she and Dick Lovie got started raising apples in Fieldbrook at their farm, to listen click here.

To learn more about what is going on at Fieldbrook Valley Apple Farms, click here.

Ron and Shelley Honig, Honey Apple Farms

Ron and Shelley Honig own a beautiful little farm on West End Road on the way between Arcata and Blue Lake — so warm and sunny they can grow some of the crops that make us “coasties” swoon with envy.  To listen to part 1 of a  2-part interview with Ron and Shelley, click here.  For Part 2 click here.

Bert Walker, Hard Cider

If you have taken an Agriculture class at College of the Redwoods — you have probably taken a class with Bert Walker.  Recently Bert retired from CR and is pursuing a new career making hard cider from the apples in his orchard in Fortuna.  Bert can still be found guest lecturing in the Ag Program at CR.

I know, I know — this one took a long time — excuse is that it was difficult to edit — blah blah blah — but here it is!

Interview with Bert Walker, Hard Cider Brewer

Also — be sure to enjoy an Adophus Spitzenburg apple, Bert’s favorite eating apple!  Hard to find, but worth the effort —