Photo by Don Nelson Lynne and Richard Wasson sample the offerings at their recently opened Methow Valley Ciderhouse.

Photo by Don Nelson
Lynne and Richard Wasson sample the offerings at their recently opened Methow Valley Ciderhouse.

By Don Nelson

The Methow Valley Ciderhouse has moved from a bucolic, out-of-the-way spot in the middle of an apple orchard to an expansive new location at Winthrop’s front door.

After extensive renovation, the ciderhouse recently relocated to a former real estate office right next door to Lost River Winery’s tasting room on Highway 20, where ciderhouse owners Richard and Lynne Wasson hope to see a lot more traffic.

The move represents a natural expansion for the ciderhouse, which had its beginnings more than 10 years ago in a small orchard on East Chewuch Road a couple of miles north of Winthrop.

The new site will feature a menu that includes several varieties of artisan chicken and pork sausages made by Thomson’s Custom Meats in Twisp (plus a vegan version), as well as other sandwiches, salads, snacks and some options for kids. Also available: the popular cider donuts made with emmer flour from nearby Bluebird Grain Farms.

As for the imbibeables, it all starts with the Wassons’ four original ciders: Eagle Screechin’ Scrumpy, Pinnacle Goat, Howling Wolf and Honey Bear. They are available by the glass, or you can take some home in recyclable bottles. All of the ciderhouse’s 16 varieties of cider apples — which are notably different from eating apples — are organic, and include varieties from old American, English and French trees.

On tap will be three “guest ciders” and five beers. Two Lost River wines — a red and a white — will also be available. There are non-alcoholic options as well.

For the entertainment-minded, there will be live music. Already scheduled are local bands Wild Mountain Nation on Saturday (June 18) and The New Deal on June 25, from 4:30-7:30 p.m. each day. There is no cover charge.

The new location — renovated to Westernization standards with wood accents inside and out, as the building is within Winthrop’s town limits — can seat 44 in the restaurant and bar areas, and accommodate a lot more on the deck in front of the building. There’s also a fireplace for wintry days. Richard said he has plans for a foosball table. Outside, an artificial, 24-foot climbing wall will offer (supervised) rock-climbing practice.

People have already started to beat a path between the ciderhouse and nearby Lost River Winery. Richard said the connection will soon be made more formal.

The ciderhouse will employ 10-15 people, depending on the season.

New venue needed

The Wassons bought 15 fertile acres on East Chewuch Road in 2004, which included an orchard with about 160 trees. Richard took a cider-making class in 2005, and the Wassons started improving their orchard with scion graftings from other cider-apple trees. They also began expanding the orchard, eventually planting about 2,000 trees.

By 2009, Richard said, “we were on our way to making cider” — but it would be another three years before the Wassons had a sizable crop.

The cidery opened in 2010 in small converted trailer from which the Wassons sold their ciders. They also had live music at the orchard during summer weekends. Growth was steady, but retail traffic still had to find its way out of Winthrop to the East Chewuch site.

“We were looking for [another] spot,” Richard said. “We couldn’t stay open in the winter. We couldn’t get as much traffic, and we wanted an indoor/outdoor venue.”

The ciders are still produced at the East Chewuch Road site.

Summer hours are Wednesday through Sunday, noon – 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.methowvalleyciderhouse.com.