The cider industry is thriving, and in this episode, we delve into the stories of three passionate cider makers: Colin and Kate Rombough of Big Bang Cider, and Nick Hill of Puget Sound Cider company. Each of them has a unique journey and approach to making cider, but they all share a love for traditional cider apples and the rich history behind cider making.
Colin Rombough had been searching for the perfect place to make cider for over 15 years. His interest in cider began while working at a cidery in northern France, which sparked his passion for making it. Colin loves cider because it is less established than wine, and apples generally do better than grapes in his area. His parents’ backgrounds in art and science inspired him to pursue fermenting, which he sees as a perfect balance between the two. Colin has a personal connection to cider making through his grandfather, who lived in Cedar, British Columbia and made his own apple press, and he has been making hobby cider every fall by finding apple trees and scrumping for juice. Kate Rombough, who is Colins partner, initially did not consider herself a cider person, but after trying some of Colin’s creations, she became interested in the process. They eventually sold their businesses and moved to start their cidery, where Kate became the primary cider maker. She enjoys farming and sees it as a lifestyle she enjoys, and is excited about the prospect of running a cidery. Kate shares her love for the cider industry because there are no defined expectations or standards, allowing for creativity and innovation. Colin is excited about the potential of the cider industry, particularly in British Columbia, where there is a lack of cider made from cider apples. He has planted a large orchard of cider apples and is excited about shaping this undefined product into something special.
Colin, Kate and their team are starting a cider production business in British Columbia, having planted 5,000 cider apple trees in the spring of 2020. They aim to produce low-acid, bitter ciders that they have trouble finding in the market. They hope to have their first commercial cider available in late winter 2023 or early 2024, starting with sales from the farm and expanding to other areas. The process has been challenging due to the coastal BC climate and lack of infrastructure, but they are optimistic about their ability to succeed.
Nick Hill and his team got into cider making through their antique shop, where they purchased an antique cider mill to make apple juice for customers. After deciding to try making hard cider, Nick did research and discovered the rich history of traditional cider apples used in cider making, which intrigued him. He became interested in the historical aspect of cider making and wanted to learn more about this part of American culture that has been forgotten. Nick finds the art form of blending different apple varieties to create unique and delicious ciders to be his favorite part of the cider industry. He is passionate about helping people discover and appreciate the finer points of cider, making them feel happy. Nick is expanding his cider company and has taken over an apple orchard to ensure a guaranteed source of traditional cider apples. He believes that traditional ciders made from these apples are of higher quality and can fetch a higher price. He hopes to encourage more people to get involved in growing and using these apples, thus creating a new industry and value-added crop in the country. He is excited about making ciders and helping people rediscover how good American cider can be and believes that the key to making high-quality cider is to use traditional cider apples.
Nick, Colin, and Kate all attended the Cider Symposium and shared their goals for the event. Kate hoped to connect with like-minded individuals and share advice on orchard management with those just starting. She also looks forward to gaining knowledge from those with more experience in the industry. Colin is excited about expanding his knowledge of the cider community and learning what works in the Pacific Northwest region. He is also interested in understanding how consumers receive traditional ciders that have a distinct flavor profile. Nick emphasizes the importance of connecting with others in the industry to share knowledge and resources. He believes that the Pacific Northwest region is poised to become a leading cider producer in the world and hopes to help foster that growth by forming networks and collaborating with others.