In Kazakhstan, the word “Alma” is the original word for the apple. In Spanish, “Alma” means soul, and in Latin, it means nurturing spirit. Alma Cider is a family orchard and boutique fermented cider company based in Mount Vernon, WA and was born from a dream to spend the days working outside in nature and to grow an unparalleled cider apple crop.
Owner Dave Klawer realized while working on an agricultural economics research paper for his Masters in Agriculture, that in 2006, there were 85,000 gallons of cider made here in Washington State, and in 2016, that number had skyrocketed to 850,000 gallons.
“But no one planted cider apple trees in that interim, and I saw a gap,” Dave said. “We started going around and canvassing cidermakers in the region, asking if they’d be interested in cider fruit, and everyone said, “We’ll take every apple you grow.’”
In response to this need, Dave and his wife Heather started grafting trees at their 36 acre orchard, Bitters & Sharps Orchard, and to support the project during the 5-to-7 year window before the trees started reliably producing, they decided to also make cider commercially. Dave was one of the first to grow cider apples here in the county and he and his wife Heather have since been a resource for orchard consultations, fresh fruit sales, as well as juice pressing and manufacturing through the Bitters & Sharps Orchard. Cidermaker Dave is also the first Certified Pommelier here in Skagit County. Hear Dave discuss cider making and the orchard on Cider Chat recently.
In 2019, Alma’s first commercial batch of cider was made. Today Dave and Heather operate the family orchard and craft the Award-Winning boutique ciders that are now enjoyed nationwide using local apples, quince, pears, and more. Alma can be purchased online and shipped through retailer Press Then Press as well as picked up locally from regional retailers shown on their website.
In 2023, Alma Cider was one of the featured pairings in the Skagit Farm to Pint FEST event. Alma Perry, a high tannin, dry Perry was perfectly paired with a dish prepared by Chef Christy Fox of Evolve Chocolate & Cafe – Three Sisters Succotash with Caramelized Pear Butter Cornbread.
We recently asked Dave what his favorite Skagit grown crop was. Here’s what he said:
“Apples! Apples grow well in the Skagit Valley. They require very little in the way of inputs when grown for pressing juice. Planting trees is great for the planet! Orchards help cool the earth, provide habitat for wildlife, are good for pollinators, and help build soil by reducing tillage. The list of benefits goes on and on, but mostly I just love apples. Taking a bite out of a crisp juicy apple is the best (and one of the healthiest snacks around). Cider is an excellent value added product.”
From graft to glass, the Skagit Grown cycle comes full circle with Alma Cider. As a member of the Genuine Skagit Valley program, we’re so happy to feature Dave, Heather, and Alma Cider as this week’s #GSVMemberMonday feature. Thank you for supporting the GSV program and for sharing the love of the Skagit Valley through cider, Alma Cider!