Every cidery has a story behind its orchards. Whether the land was passed down generation after generation, it was purchased for the purpose of planting and juicing apples or anything in-between, each is incredibly unique. For Eaglemount Winery and Cidery in Port Townsend, Washington, it’s the story of a long-forgotten 1883 homestead and the work one devoted couple did to bring it new life.
Jim Davis stumbled upon the property that is now Eaglemount’s production site in 1980, and what he found was a dilapidated homestead that needed a lot of love. The road required bushwhacking and the original cabin’s roof had caved in, but one glimmer of hope stood on the property — a beautiful, blooming apple orchard.
The Start of Cider
Jim and Trudy Davis settled on the property in the mid-90s. “When I got here, there were apples all over the place,” Trudy says. And with an abundance at hand, Trudy decided to utilize what the old homestead had given them and started making apple wine and hard cider for the couple to enjoy on their own or with friends. “I was always experimenting with other fruits,” she says. “I tapped into something I loved to do.”
As the Davis’ began to utilize the fruit from the more than 130-year-old heirloom cider orchard, it didn’t come without a lot of work.
“It hadn’t been taken care of for years,” Trudy says, noting how the trees were growing every which way, and she even cut whole, tree-sized suckers out of the trees to lower them.
Back then, the Davis’ were also hand-cranking the apples through a press to make the juice. With 25 remaining trees from the homestead orchard, there was still plenty of juice to be had and utilized, and the couple took pride in continuing the work of making heirloom cider that once took place on the property over 100 years before them.
Hobbyists into a Business Owners
After realizing they had a knack and a passion for creating craft beverages, the couple dove in head first as they started making cider professionally in 2006. Utilizing Trudy’s background in chemistry, after studying at the University of Washington, along with experience she gained working as an assistant to the winemaker at Hoodsport Winery, they started selling ciders made with apples from their historic orchard and never looked back.
Today, there are more than 15 varieties growing in that old orchard, including Gravenstein, Winter Banana, Roxbury Russet and Jonathan. The apples from the orchard are reserved for Eaglemount’s Homestead Dry Cider and Homestead Semi-Sweet Cider. “It was a gift,” she says. “And the trees are still producing lots of apples.”
As their operation grew, the Davis’ also planted French and English apple varieties. They also utilize apples from other growers on the Olympic Peninsula to keep up with demand. “We keep it all as local as we can,” Trudy adds.
Since the very beginning, the Davis’ have made a name for themselves with their unique offerings. Eaglemount also produces mead with honey from an organic apple farm in nearby Sequim and red wines from Eastern Washington grapes, as well as always experimenting with cider additions such as quince and ginger.
“There were very few cideries in Washington when we started,” Trudy says, adding that Eaglemount was one of the first hybrid winery-cideries in Washington. “There’s not many people crazy enough to do both at once. It makes it more challenging. Now, we can’t really stop, which is good.”
Thanks to the bold step Trudy and Jim Davis took, that forgotten homestead continues to flourish into a new era.