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.

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