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).
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.
(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.
(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).
(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.
(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).
(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.
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.
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.)