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Cider Strikes

Every good decision we’ve ever made was over a beer, including the decision to make cider. I’d been working for several years on that other type of fermentation – cheese – and had just returned from a frigid two-week winter class in Vermont with a noted French cheese maker avec un heavy accent.

In that class well over two years ago I discovered that even the remote possibility of poisoning someone held no appeal for me, not a chance. Cleaning and sanitizing is a constant job for a cheese maker (cider maker, too!), but getting it right with cheese added so many zeroes to every calculation that it became impossible to afford. When I asked one cheese maker what a start-up cost might run -- he has a very small, delightful creamery in Oregon -- he mentioned that a retirement fund might cover it but “prepare not to re-fund that fund.” Yikes!

Shortly after returning from Vermont, Rob and I were sitting in the San Jose airport where I was burying my dream of making cheese, pouring my sorrow into my beer. Rob casually said “Hey, what about cider” and the fermentation connection lit up like an Oklahoma thunderstorm.

We both loved cider but hadn’t drunk much of it since there wasn’t good cider to be had in Southern California at the time. The best ciders we’d drunk were in Oregon. And that’s where we happened to own an orchard.

Couldn’t we replant ailing cherry trees with cider apples? Easier to care for than dairy goats or cows, who never go a day without a milking, right? That was the right kind of lightning strike for this Okie.

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