Think fruit. Think Hard Cider. That’s what North Fork Cellars and Delicious Orchards is all about. Owners Jeff and Tracey Schwartz and brother, Seth Schwartz, have created an incredible business utilizing their skills in growing fruit. I have included Hard Ciders in my book, Exploring Colorado Wineries, because it is a fermented beverage. In fact, Jeff tells me its the original alcohol of the United States…think Johnny Appleseed!! Apples ferment easily and produce a beverage that averages 7% alcohol. Its a great alternative to wine or beer, and is very popular in Europe.
So how do you make Hard Cider? Primary fermentation takes about 2 weeks. Secondary fermentation is about letting the juice rest and relax before it is placed in stainless steel containers. Remember…stainless steel is a “neutral” holding tank, unlike oak barrels. Racking (think siphoning from one container to another) is important in making Hard Cider so that you remove any remaining yeast and sediment as you finalize your product into the tanks. North Fork Cellars uses only apples from the North Fork Valley, and makes straight Hard Apple Cider, as well as blends apple and other fruits to make other fruit flavored Hard Ciders. One unique process they do is add a little straight apple juice into the bottle as they are bottling, which creates a natural carbonation.
The Schwartz’s began their current businesses by making fruit juice. Jeff worked for and then bought Big B’s, which produces 12 different fruit juices and lemonades/teas. They press 3,000 gallons/day of fruit from September through February…that is a LOT of fruit juice! Consumers can purchase these at Delicious Orchards store and at many King Soopers and Whole Foods stores. They also have a 17-acre orchard where they grow cherries, apricots, apples, pears, peaches and table grapes. You can pick your own or purchase them at the store.
The next time you are at Delcious Orchards, stop on in at their tasting room where you can sample their Hard Ciders as well as wine from other Colorado wineries or pick your own fresh fruit. If you are there on a Saturday afternoon in the summer or early fall, they have a BBQ and live music.