Eaglemount Homestead Semi-Sweet

Review of Eaglemount’s Homestead Semi-Sweet cider, from Port Townsend Washington.  I’ve tried a number of their ciders (see here) and visited their tasting room (see here).  Eaglemount is unique in that they also make wine and mead in addition to cider.  Note that they also make a Dry version of this cider.

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Cider:  Homestead Semi-Sweet
Cidery:  Eaglemount Wine & Cider (& Mead)
Cidery Location:  Port Townsend WA
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied:  750ml flip top brown bottle
Style:  American homestead-style craft cider made from Washingon-grown heirloom apple varieties

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Availability:  Limited release.  Eaglemount ciders are distributed in Western Washington, Portland Oregon, Farmer’s Markets in Port Townsend, Port Angeles, Ballard, and Tacoma WA, Eaglemount’s tasting room in Port Townsend WA, and their online store.

Cider Description:  Homestead Semisweet cider is made from heirloom variety apples from our homestead orchard and other old orchards on the Olympic Peninsula. This cider is crisp, clean, with a touch of sweetness and apple goodness.

Cidery Description:  Our winery is located on an original 1883 homestead on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.  The heirloom apple varieties were the inspiration to continue the tradition of the original homesteaders by making hard cider.  Some of the heirloom varieties include Gravenstein, Winesap, White Pippin, Roxbury Russet, and twenty ounce.  We also source heirloom varieties from other old homestead orchards on the Peninsula.

Our Eaglemount Hard Ciders and Meads are made with certified organic or sustainably grown fruit.  The fruit comes from our homestead orchard, other homestead orchards in the area, our English and French cider orchard, and from certified organic growers in Washington State.

Price:  $14
Where Bought:  Eaglemount tasting room in Port Townsend WA
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I tried this at their tasting room and really enjoyed it.

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow.  Very low carbonation.  Smells mild, of fresh apples, yeast, and honey.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to semi-sweet.  Mild to moderate tartness.  Mild acidity and tannins.  Hints of bitterness and funk.  No sourness.  Notes of yeast, honey, citrus, spice, and must.  Slightly rich.  Medium bodied.  Long warming finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  Mild to moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed this, but I liked it better when I tried it at their tasting room.  Letting it breathe for a bit helped dissipate some of the harshness, but when I tried it previously I didn’t pick up the hints of bitterness, funk, and must.  Ciders can change batch to batch though.

Most Similar to:  Finnriver Farmstead Semi-Sweet.  Both are farmstead/homestead-style ciders on the sweeter side with significant tannins and honey & yeast notes.

Closing Notes:   I think my favorite from Eaglemount remains their Quince cider, although I also like this one and their Cyser.

Have you tried Eaglemount Homestead Semi-Sweet?  What did you think?

Port Townsend Cider Route – Eaglemount Wine & Cider (& Mead)

As a continuation of my trip report on the Port Townsend cider route, this is post 3/4, on Eaglemount Wine & Cider (here is overview post 1 and here is post 2 on Alpenfire).  It was our second cidery of the day.  Eaglemount is unique in that they also offer red grape wine and mead (honey wine) in addition to cider.  All of these are made by the co-owner Trudy.  It was quite busy, but I got a chance to chat with her and introduce myself.  I learned that Drew Zimmerman from Red Barn Cider in Mt Vernon WA was an inspiration in their making cider, wine, and mead.  Red Barn Cider closed a few years ago due to his retirement.  Its not the first time I’ve heard of Drew Zimmerman…his Fire Barrel cider is now made by Finnriver (who also bought his cider apple orchard).

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Eaglemount is owned & operated by the husband & wife team of Jim & Trudy Davis, since 2006, although they had been making these beverages for 10 years prior to that.  They moved their tasting room just over a year ago from their home, orchard, & cidery/winery/meadery to a separate property (the Palindrome).  I learned they often start their ciders fermenting with wild yeast, then may add yeast as required.  There is an Airbnb on the new property, and plans for a new septic system and commercial kitchen so they can host events.  At their orchard they are planting 800 cider apple trees to add to the current 200.  They currently use cider apples in a mix with dessert apples in their Dry & Semi-Sweet Homestead ciders.

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One of the disadvantages of visiting during an event was they were offering less tastings for a higher cost (due to the chocolate pairings), and they were served in plastic cups (for some reason cider always tastes better from a glass to me).  I went through two sets of four tastes at Eaglemount.  My husband also sampled some of their red wines.

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The cider & mead tasting options that day were Homestead Dry cider, Homestead Semi-Sweet cider, Cyser, Quince cider, Rhubarb cider, Raspberry cider, Raspberry Ginger cider, Ginger cider, Apple mead, Cherry mead, Cranberry mead, Quince mead, Apple Dessert Wine, and Harvest Apple wine.  The last two were described as apple wines as they had higher ABVs.  I believe the only cider from their lineup that wasn’t offered was Boot Brawl, their hopped cider.  Bottles of cider & mead ranged from $14-$26 (mostly $14-$16), and most bottles are 750ml.  They also had 5 red wines they were tasting out of the 6 in their lineup.

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<this brand of environmentally friendly mini plastic cups is quite popular, also used at Finnriver and at several other cider events I’ve been to; I later learned that the county requires the two tasting rooms to use disposable drinkware as they have not yet met certain requirements such as water use and septic monitoring history–quite interesting>

Homestead Semi-Sweet Cider, 8% ABV – This is the sweeter version of their Homestead cider, also available in Dry.  Smells likes sweet apples with a touch of honey.  Slightly hazy.  Semi-sweet.  Moderate carbonation.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate tannins.  Low tartness and acidity.  Yeasty, slightly rich, similar to English cider, but with a touch of honey notes.  Moderate finish length.  I liked this much better than their Homestead Dry that I tried at Cider Summit, as it didn’t have as much tartness or bitterness.

Rhubarb Cider, 8% ABV – Cider with organic rhubarb.  Smells tart and fruity.  Described as semi-sweet but I found it semi-dry.  Low carbonation.  Light bodied.  Low to moderate tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Fruity notes, although I’m not sure I could have identified them as rhubarb.  A touch alcohol-forward.  Long finish length.

Quince Mead, 9% ABV – Made from honey and organic quince from San Juan island.  Smells sweet, fruity, and of honey.  Semi-sweet.  Full bodied.  Low to moderate tartness and acidity.  A hint of bitterness.  Tropical notes.  Moderate finish length.  I prefer their Quince cider.

Apple Dessert Wine, 18% ABV – Apple brandy blended with apple juice (which would more commonly be called Pommeau).  Smells like apple brandy.  Semi-sweet.  Light bodied. Low tartness and acidity.  Oddly enough I picked up a hint of tannins.  Smooth.  Honey, caramel, and brown sugar notes.  Long warming boozy finish.

Raspberry Cider, 8% ABV – Cider (80%) with pure raspberry juice (20%).  Deep red hue.  Described as semi-sweet but I found it sweet.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  A hint of tannins.  Medium bodied.  Full flavored with lots of raspberry flavor.  Quick finish length.

Apple Mead, 10% ABV – Mead (made from honey from Sequim WA) with apples.  I’m not sure how this varies from their cyser (which is also made from honey and apples).  Smells mild, of apple juice and honey.  Semi-sweet.  Medium bodied.  Mild acidity.  Moderate tartness.  A hint of bitterness.  A hint of tannins (apple skin flavor).  Notes of apple, honey, and pollen.  From memory I think this has more apple flavor and a higher ABV than their Cyser, which I prefer.  Moderate finish length.

Cherry Mead, 10% ABV – Mead (made from honey from Sequim WA) with Organic cherries.  Deep red hue.  Sweet.  I only picked up cherry notes, not honey, and they tended towards medicinal.  However, my husband really enjoyed this one.  I think at a lower ABV I may have liked it better.  Alcohol-forward.  Medium bodied.  Long warming finish.

Harvest Apple Wine – This is a new release for them, described as a dry wine crafted from heirloom apples and wild yeast.  They had planned to blend it, but liked it on its own.  Semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low to moderate acidity and tartness.  Low tannins and bitterness.  Both apple and alcohol forward.  Long warming finish.

I picked up a bottle of Homestead Semi-Sweet (and my husband bought a bottle of red wine).  I think their Quince cider remains my favorite, followed by the Homestead Semi-Sweet and Cyser, which I find to be their most complex ciders.

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Stay tuned for post 4/4 on Finnriver!

Port Townsend Cider Route – Road Trip Report

I finally made it out the Olympic Peninsula to visit the three Port Townsend Washington area cideries, Alpenfire, Eaglemount, and Finnriver.  My husband took me on a birthday weekend getaway, and we stayed the night in Port Ludlow (South of Port Townsend).  This post will cover the trip as a whole, then I’ll have three other posts for tasting notes and info on each of the three cideries.

We planned this trip a couple months in advance, but it ended up being weekend 2/2 of a Red Wine (& Cider) & Chocolate Valentine’s Day thing, so unfortunately that meant I didn’t get the typical tasting experience.  In addition to having a different tasting selection, the cideries appeared to be charging more for tastings (as they were offering chocolate pairings).  However, that also meant that Alpenfire was open (they usually close for the Winter this time of year).

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It was an early wake up for a Saturday, as I wanted to allow extra time for ferry delays or whatever just in case, although the trip is only a couple hours.

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(1) We started with the 8am Edmonds to Kingston ferry, which is a quick 30 minute trip, but actually didn’t save us much time (vs. driving around to the South), but is fun and breaks up the trip.

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(2) Then we headed up North to Port Townsend, did a quick driving tour of the town, and ate a late breakfast at a cute French-themed restaurant called Sweet Laurette (which was very good).

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(3) Next we realized the Mount Townsend Creamery was on our route, and we had a bit of time, so that was a fun quick stop.

route map

(4) Then, on to our first cider stop, Alpenfire!  We got lucky as for this event weekend they opened at 11am instead of noon, giving us an extra hour.  Also, we ended up being the only guests at Alpenfire, likely as it was so early.

I should note that this area is lovely just to take a drive, surrounded by trees.

(5) Next was Eaglemount (at their new location by the way–the cider route maps still have their old address).  They are unique on the cider route as they also make grape wine and honey wine (mead) in addition to cider.

(6) After that we stopped in at the Chimacum Corner Farmstand to take a look.

(7) Last, we ended the cider route at Finnriver.  We made good time and finished up there just before 4pm (so without the hour head start it would have been 5pm).

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(8) Finally, we drove South to Port Ludlow to the Inn at the Resort at Port Ludlow.  It appears to be the nicest accommodations in the area.  There aren’t many newer / higher priced options in Port Townsend.  Port Ludlow is actually closer to Finnriver than Port Townsend (and closer to the ferry), so it wasn’t really an inconvenience.  The main thing it impacted was our dinner options, as Port Ludlow is much smaller than Port Townsend…we ended up at The Fireside restaurant at the Inn for both dinner and breakfast, which was very nice, but definitely added to the cost.  The Inn is beautifully situated on the marina in the planned community of Port Ludlow.

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I was surprised at how small it was, less than 40 rooms, although they also have several event and banquet rooms.  Overall I think it was overpriced (it looked nice on the surface but the room had a lot of little annoyances like a loud heater & mini fridge and uncomfortable bed), but for the level of accommodations we are used to, it was the best option.  We had time before dinner to walk along the waterfront.  Its a popular destination for weddings, and I imagine they are full all summer long (even without air conditioning!).  For our February stay however it was fairly quiet.

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I was drawn to the restaurant’s cider selection on their online menu, but it ended up being a disappointment…they had reduced their ciders from 4 by the glass, 4 by the bottle, 1 Pommeau, and several Finnriver brandywines to only 1 by the glass (Eaglemount Ginger), 1 by the bottle (Alpenfire Glow), and the Finnriver brandywines.  You’d think their best option would be to stock 500ml Finnriver bottles as to not have to keep anything open, have ciders that are widely appealing (not ginger), and have something that one person could order (plus although Glow is amazing, I’d call it more of a dessert cider than something to pair with dinner).  I ended up ordering a cocktail with Prosecco and Finnriver Black Currant brandywine.  The food was amazing but the service was absent at times.  Overall our stay met our needs but didn’t amaze us.

Wanting to make this trip yourself?  Here are my tips:

  • Although its doable to make it a day trip from the greater Seattle area (especially as the cideries are only typically open noon-5pm), staying overnight was great, and gave us a chance to have a leisurely dinner too instead of rushing home.  However, especially in the summer, be warned that hotels book very quickly, likely as there are few options.
  • Definitely be safe and have a designated driver, as its a lot of cider tasting in a short period of time.
  • Plan your route.  I’m glad I planned the order we’d visit the cideries, how long of a drive between them, etc.  It wouldn’t have been fun to go on the trip and end up only making it to 2/3 cideries for example due to running out of time.
  • Bring some snacks, as there are very few options once you start the cider route, and cider tasting on an empty stomach isn’t wise.  Apparently in summer some of the cideries may offer food though (such as pizza at Finnriver).  One option is the Chimacum Corner Farmstand, which is a mix between a roadside produce stand and a mini PCC (plus they even sell garden type stuff like fertilizer outside).  They are close to Finnriver and have some grab & go lunch type stuff.  We stopped in but didn’t end up buying anything.  Due to our large breakfast just before starting the cider route, we ended up being ok food-wise until the third stop at Finnriver, where we had some of the snacks we brought (I went a bit fancy and packed us a cheese plate in a cooler).
  • Cash wasn’t necessary, although it could be handy for tasting fees and tips.  All three cideries used the credit card payment app Square on an ipad (no extra fee).
  • Plan to purchase bottles (and cidery swag if interested), as you will get a chance to taste at least a few ciders that aren’t distributed.  Cinders at Alpenfire and Pommeau at Finnriver for example.

Stay tuned for my tasting notes from Alpenfire, Eaglemount, and Finnriver!

(UPDATE – Posts on Alpenfire, Eaglemount, and Finnriver are now up.)

Eaglemount Quince

Review of Eaglemount Wine & Cider’s Quince cider.  Note that this is apparently the only commercially-produced Quince cider (although it has been used in low quantities in cider blends).  From the description below it doesn’t appear to be a single varietal, but pretty close.  Here is a cool NY Times article on Eaglemount’s Quince, focusing on the apples, In Praise of the Misunderstood Quince.

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(sorry for the wrinkled label…I guess my fridge is a bit humid!)

Cider:  Quince
Cidery: Eaglemount Wine & Cider
Cidery Location: Port Townsend WA (note they are currently moving the tasting room)
ABV:  8.0%
How Supplied: 750 ml clear glass bottle with a handy flip-top to reseal after popping the metal cap


Availability:  Very limited release.  Distributed in Seattle WA & Portland OR, a Port Townsend WA area Farmer’s Market, Eaglemount’s tasting room in Port Townsend WA, and Eaglemount’s online store.  They also offer a cider club!

Cider Description:  A one of a kind cider made with Certified Organic Quince and heirloom variety apples.  This unique complex cider has notes of pineapple, grapefruit, honey, and more.  The Quince were grown in Washington’s San Juan Islands. Enjoy this delightful cider with roasted pear salad, light entrees, or as a chilled afternoon cordial by itself or mixed with your favorite spirits.  Our Quince Cider was featured in the New York Times April 2012 in an article on quince. Won Best Specialty Cider in SIP Magazine in 2013.

(Quince apples, a photo from Eaglemount’s Facebook page)

Cidery Description: We started our winery in 2006 here on the Olympic Peninsula in northwest Washington State.  We own one of the original homesteads in the area and started making wine and then hard cider from the wonderful heirloom apples from our homestead orchard in 1996. Some of the varieties include: Gravenstein, Winter Banana, Jonathan, Roxbury Russet and more. We also have a cider orchard with French and English varieties of cider apples.

They have six cider varieties (Quince, Rhubarb, Ginger, Homestead Semi-Sweet, Homestead Dry, & Boot Brawl), one mead variety (Apple), one Cyser (mead-style cider), and five wine varieties listed on their website (online store), but it appears they have more (at least at their tasting room) from the reviews I’ve read.

Additional Info from Trudy Davis, the vintner at Eaglemount, in Response to My Request:  Our winery is located on an 1883 Homestead that has the original apple trees. These were the foundation for our first ciders. All of our apples come from a 20 mile radius here on the Olympic Peninsula. The quince come from a certified organic orchard in the San Juan Islands. Quince is a hard to describe flavor; honeysuckle, tropical fruit, and grapefruit are some descriptors.

Price:  $20.50
Where Bought:  Full Throttle Bottles in Georgetown area of Seattle WA (I’ve also seen Eaglemount ciders at Special Brews, but not Quince)
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing, and I’ve read some reviews.  I’ve had my eye on Eaglemount and was deciding what variety would be best for me to try.  This definitely fit the bill!


First Impression: Carbonated upon pouring.  Fairly clear yellow amber.  Distinctive scent, which I assume is the Quince apples, with a tropical flair.

Opinion:  Semi-dry, but due to the “sweet” flavors, it comes across a bit sweeter than I think it actually is.  Carbonated mouthfeel.  Very distinctive complex flavor which I agree is difficult to describe.  I definitely pick up tropical aspects, some vanilla & honey, and a touch of an herbal/floral quality.  It has only a slight tartness, and no bitterness, which can be difficult to accomplish with a drier cider.  This is a very well crafted cider–mighty fine!  It drinks more like 5% than 8% ABV; very smooth.  There are also some wine-like qualities to this cider, but not enough to discourage me, which often occurs with wine-like ciders.

Most Similar to: Reverend Nat’s Revival, which also has some tropical aspects to it.  Eaglemount by comparison is slightly less sweet and has a more distinctively complex flavor.

Closing Notes:  Epic cider–highly recommended!  I really enjoy complex ciders like this.  Eaglemount Quince is definitely a treat, worth the higher price tag.  I look forward to trying more of their ciders.  This variety definitely stuck out for me when choosing one, and from what I read, it seems very well received (most posts about Eaglemount seem to mention Quince).  I think I’ve mostly seen their Root Brawl (hopped cider) and Cyser (mead-style cider) around me.

Fun Fact:  Finnriver and Alpenfire are in the same Port Townsend area as Eaglemount; see this cider route map.  Roadtrip anyone?

Postscript:  I wish more craft cideries offered their product in smaller bottles.  For folks like me without someone to share the cider with most of the time (my hubby is more into spirits, beer, & wine), a 750ml bottle of a relatively high ABV cider is a bit much for one sitting.  Also, a smaller bottle would lower the price point.  500ml is a more manageable size.  I made a big dent in emptying the bottle, but had plenty left to drink a second night.  The flip top closure worked fairly well, especially at re-carbonation, and there was very little change in the cider’s flavor (as I’ve had happen before, it mellowed out just a bit).

Have you tried Eaglemount Quince?  What did you think?

Cider Says Weekly Preview

What posts to expect in the upcoming week at Cider Says:

  • Schilling Cider House Trip Report
  • Schilling Cider House – Cider Tasting Notes
  • Spotlight on Washington Cideries
  • Eaglemount Quince cider review
  • added: Do You Know How Many Cider Bars there are in the U.S.?
  • added: Countdown to Cider Summit Seattle!
  • added: Sea Cider Prohibition / Rumrunner review

Stay tuned, and remember to follow us on Facebook or e-mail (sidebar on right, or at bottom of page on mobile devices) or follow on WordPress (top left bar) to be notified of new posts here at Cider Says.  Have a great week!

Cider Says Weekly Preview

What posts to expect in the upcoming week at Cider Says:

  • Monday: Woodchuck Oopsy Daisy cider review
  • Tuesday: Cider at Seattle International Beerfest (July 10-12)
  • Wednesday: Angry Orchard mini cider reviews (Crisp Apple, Traditional Dry, Elderflower, Summer Honey, Iceman, & The Muse)
  • Thursday: Ace Pineapple cider review
  • Friday/Saturday: mystery new cider review
    • I’m still deciding what to try first, as (unfortunately for my bank account) I bought 9! new ciders over the weekend and still have 7 remaining:  Eaglemount Quince, NV Cider Half Past Prudent, Worley’s Premium Vintage, Atlas Hard Apple Cider, Liberty Manchurian Crabapple, Anthem Traditional, and Crispin Browns Lane Imported English Cider.

Stay tuned, and remember to follow by e-mail (sidebar on right, or at bottom of page on mobile devices) or follow on WordPress (top left bar) to be notified of new posts here at Cider Says.  Have a great week!