Orchards, Fruit & Terroir
Fenceline was founded along country roads.
Driving through Southwest Colorado we began noticing that apple trees grew along many fencelines, the work of wild propagators like birds and small animals, rather than farmers. Protected and nurtured by split rail and barbed wire, many of these seeds have traveled long distances, taking root here in Montezuma County and growing into a vast array of “wild” apple varietials. Being the apple geeks we are, we stopped and took a taste, finding that they carried two key cider apple elements—acid and tannin. Our proof is in the glass: Great cider is born along the fenceline.
Here is a short list of our favorite named varietals.
An old American cultivar of domesticated apple, the Golden Russet is excellent for fresh eating as well as apple cider production. Part of the Russet apple family, the Golden Russet is juicy and sweet, and often used as a cider apple. Early in the season, Golden Russets exhibit an attractive, though extreme, tartness that makes them excellent for eating.
France’s finest, the Blanc Mollet is astringently bittersweet, and makes a great cider even when blended with more commercially available apples like Johnathan, Granny, Jonagold, or Delicious. Growing along wide branch angles over a long harvest period, Blanc Mollet’s are fun to grow and yield in abundance.
Growing in a slightly shorter window than the Blanc Mollet, the Gros Frequin apple is a bitter apple that grows consistently and with medium vigor. Apples hang well until mature, and blend nicely with Blanc Mollet.
A nice cider apple, the Domaine is astringently bittersweet, featuring an early to mid-season harvest and well-structured branches.
The Gros Launette is a large French apple that is mildly bittersweet. With an early to mid-season harvest, its trees feature very wide branch angles and a nice tree canopy with no training. Mildly astringent.
The Harrison cider apple is one of the most famous 18th century American cider apples, meaning that it was primarily used for the production of apple cider. Grown in New Jersey before and after the American Revolution, it became obsolete by the 20th Century. The Harrison cider apple was considered lost until it was recovered in Livingston, New Jersey at an old cider mill in September 1976.