November 23, 2010See on Map
Skagit Fresh is the brainchild of three farmers in the Skagit Valley: Alan Merritt (2nd generation farmer), Richard Sakuma (3rd generation) and Jim Perkins (2nd generation). They teamed up in 2004 with the goal of preserving apple growing as a viable crop in the Skagit Valley. In the last five years, apple production in the valley has decreased by over 30% due to price pressure from foreign-grown product and large-scale agribusiness production.
Here, the only apples used in this cider are grown by the three owners. The primary variety will be Jonagold, blended with Gravenstein, Gala or Honeycrisp. The first bin of apples pressed during my visit was Alan Merritt’s Gravenstein apples. Alan is the only grower of Gravenstein apples west of the mountains.
All of the apples that will be used in the cider are grown and harvested within 20 miles of the cider press. Apples will be pressed within one day of being picked from the trees. Each batch of cider will contain a different combination of apples depending upon what has been freshly picked. This is truly a craft cider press.
I got to taste some of the freshly pressed juice and it was delicious. Cold and crisp – kind of like taking a bite of an apple you just picked the tree on a sunny fall day.
This is the year that Skagit Fresh will be doing cider production. They worked with the Northwest Agriculture Business Center (NABC) to get the cider press up and running.
They plan on pressing cider from October through February of 2011, depending upon the apple harvest. We’re very excited that Whole Foods Market will be carrying gallons and half-gallons of the cider. The farmers are starting with apple cider but are planning to add apple blueberry cider and apple raspberry cider, with blueberries and raspberries from Richard Sakuma’s farm.