Last week, PSFN’s Parent organization, the Northwest Agriculture Businesses Center (NABC), held its Hard Cider Production & Orchard Management course! Hosted by the WSU-Mount Vernon Research Center, the class was split into the two phases of cider production: orchard management and cider production itself.
The Orchard Management and Cider Fruit Production course was taught by Gary Moulton of Washington State University. Gary is an orchardist and cider production expert and has been working in the field for decades. The topics discussed in this hands-on course included soil quality, orchard layout, rootstock selection, variety selection, pollinators, irrigation, pruning, thinning, pest management, harvest methods, and grafting techniques.
The hands-on class then led the students down the road to the Red Barn Cidery. Gary Moulton and Drew Zimmermen (owner) gave the students a detailed tour of the cider orchard and processing facility. After a hard day’s work, the students and instructors kicked back and relaxed in the beautiful Red Barn tasting room. Talk about perks of the trade – a post-class happy hour doesn’t get much more convenient than that!
For the remainder of the week, focus shifted to cider production in a week-long course, Cider Making: Principals & Practices taught by cider production expert Peter Mitchell. The first part of the class focused on giving participants a broad appreciation for cider and taught the tenets of cider and perry production. Then things got a lot more in depth… Students were granted access the experimental cider lab of the WSU-Mount Vernon Research Center. In the lab, students were taught how to test the chemical properties of their cider and were given the opportunity to create their own cider recipes with the advice of Mr. Mitchell.
On Friday, the final day of the course, class was held at La Conner Flats! Members of the local agriculture and cider community were invited for a lunch time cider networking event. These community members were able to critique ciders made by class participants and offer valuable feedback, support, and advice.
What a great week! The Cider Principals & Production class will be held again if we can muster enough interest. Contact Ann Leason with any questions about future cider classes: firstname.lastname@example.org / (360) 336-3666.
For more photos of the cider production classes, visit our Facebook Page!