In the west, water makes or breaks a place. For Etta Place Cider, that’s where our story begins. When we (Ann and Robert) moved to Torrey, our home parcel came with irrigation rights, and in the west, “use it or lose it” is the law.  As we were pondering the correct and best use of this precious resource, we ventured into Capitol Reef National Park during harvest season. Robert selected a perfect, tree-ripened apple that tasted nothing at all anything we’d ever bought from a grocery store.  Could we too grow apples here?

We discovered hard cider through learning about the apples. We sampled as much as we could, traveling to upstate New York and Virginia to educate ourselves. In the spring of 2012, we moved to Torrey and planted the first 50 trees. We could find no one to advise us on which cider varieties would work at 7,000’, so we tried everything we could get our hands on.  The Kingbird orchard is a wild experiment of rootstocks and cultivars that no one with an academic pomologist  background could ever approve of. Nevertheless, some happy surprises resulted from our haphazard methods.

We acquired more land and water.  We planted more trees. We waited patiently for our first harvest. In the meantime, we started hosting apple tastings here at the ranch. At first we gathered them from the park orchards and our neighbors’ yards. Every year, our guests voted for their favorites, and we been planting those trees too, if we didn’t have them.

We still host apple tastings every year, but now they open to the public and the fruit are harvested mostly from our orchards. People still contribute new-to-us apples to the tastings, and we still are planting more trees. Our plantings were selected for aromatics, flavors, acidity and tannins that separate an orchard-based cider from the rest. 

In answer to one of our most frequently asked questions, here is the list of all our cultivars.

Previous top 3 finishers in our tastings
Trees we recommend for home table fruit production (easy to train, fewer pest problems)
Our main cider cultivars

  1. Aarguer Jubilaums
  2. Ashmeads Kernel
  3. Bedan
  4. Binet Rouge
  5. Blue Pearmain
  6. Bramleys Seedling
  7. Bramtot
  8. Brown Snout
  9. Burford’s Redflesh
  10. Calville Blanc
  11. Cathead
  12. Chenango Strawbery
  13. Chestnut Crab
  14. Chisel Jersey
  15. Coconut Crunch
  16. Coop 11
  17. Cornish Gilliflower
  18. Cortland
  19. Coxs Orange Pippin
  20. Dabinett
  21. Duchess of Oldenburg
  22. Edelborsdorfer
  23. Ellis Bitter
  24. Empire
  25. Erwin Bauer
  26. Fall Russet
  27. Esopus Spitzenburg
  28. Frequin Rouge
  29. Gaver Jubilant
  30. Geneva Crab
  31. Gibsons Golden Delicious
  32. Golden Russet
  33. Graniwinkle
  34. Harrison
  35. Harry Masters Jersey
  36. Hudsons Golden Gem
  37. Karmijn de Sonneville
  38. Kerr
  39. Kidds Orange Red
  40. King of Tompkins Co
  41. Kingston Black
  42. Lady
  43. Liberty
  44. Major
  45. Nehou
  46. Newtown Pippin
  47. Noel de Champs
  48. Northern Spy
  49. NY73
  50. Opalescent
  51. Pink Pearl
  52. Pomme Gris 
  53. Porters Perfection
  54. Pristine
  55. Puget Spice
  56. Redfield
  57. Ribston Pippin
  58. Roxbury Russet
  59. Rubinette
  60. Snowdrift
  61. Somerset Redstreak
  62. Stoke Red
  63. Sweet Coppin
  64. Tom Putt
  65. Uncle Joe’s Mac
  66. Vilberie
  67. Virginia Crab
  68. Waltham
  69. Wickson Crab
  70. Wolf River