Making Colorado Grown Cider
The Montezuma valley is nestled in the southwest corner of Colorado, about seven hours drive from Denver, and it has some great old apple trees that have survived drought, fire, and even prohibition.
Last weekend I brought back 500 gallons of fresh pressed juice from these historic 80-100 year old trees like the one pictured on the right with the intent of making an all Colorado grown cider that hopefully can express what these trees have to offer cider makers like myself.
The juice, which will become cider, was made from fruit harvested by volunteers of the Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project (http://montezumaorchard.org/)
The apple pressing was done by Northwest Mobile Juicing (http://nwmobilejuicing.com/), who are great guys who brought their rig down from Montana for the event.
The blend of heirloom apples (pictured at top left) we used to make this cider was:
- Delicious (the parent of the common Red Delicious apple): 35%
- Jonathan 27.5%
- Winesap 13%
- Golden Delicious 12%
- Winter Banana 11%
- Bitter Crabapples 1.5%
Most of the trees I saw were in various shades of repair and some were basically wild and untouched by modern fertilizers, sprays, or pruning.
Starting at about 15% sugars, the juice is happily fermenting away at cool temperatures back in Denver and I plan to age it in some American oak barrels for about 3 months after primary fermentation, so look for the finished cider to be ready around January 2017!