Looking down rows of orchards with picturesque Mt. Hood in the backdrop, Christine Walter of Bauman’s Century Farm Cider carefully explains the 38 varieties of apples on the 700 acres of Bauman land.
“We have lots of cool heritage and specialty apples,” she says of her family farm that has seen five generations tend to the land. “Some of my favorites are the Corail or Pinova apple, which is a German cultivar; the Braeburn, out of New Zealand and the Melrose, an American cultivar and the state apple of Ohio.”
The Bauman clan moved west in 1895 to Gervais, Oregon, all the way from Minnesota and planted literal roots in the Willamette Valley. Back in the early 1900s, Walter’s great-grandfather created cider of his own before Prohibition hit, but, as it did across the country, the effects of the embargo sadly caused the fermentation to end.
With these storied varieties grown on her property, Walter, who also has a degree in biochemistry, started her own cider company from the estate Bauman’s Farm & Gardens in early January by following in her ancestors’ footsteps and using the fruitful family land. Today, Bauman’s Century Farm Cider produces three signature ciders and few seasonal blends with Walter at the cidermaking helm.
Keeping vintage cidermaking techniques in mind, she says she honors her ancestors with two ciders in each of their names. Her great-grandfather, Stephen, has the Stephen’s Subtly Sweet cider and her grandfather, Clyde, has the Clyde’s Dry, which is a tribute to his 92-years living on Bauman Farms. The last signature cider is the Obsidian, made with a blend of handpicked blackberries, traditional cider and a drizzle of honey from bees onsite.
As part of the annual Bauman’s Harvest Festival, a regional cider tasting affair was also hosted, providing both guests and Walter with perspective on the local scene. “Everyone was totally different, so special and so intriguing, not trying to fit in this box,” she says of her Oregon cider colleagues at the tasting. “Here in Oregon, and in the Northwest in general, we can do anything we want. We’re pioneers out here in an industry that’s so ready to be built and grown. So it’s a special time to not have to feel like you’re playing by the rules because we’re making the rules.”
Looking forward, Walter is hopeful of what the Bauman Cider name may become. Within less than a year of production, the ciders are on tap in over 40 restaurants in the Portland Metro and Salem, Oregon, areas. They will begin bottling cider by the end of this year, allowing for expansion into neighboring states. Walter says her biggest hope is to keep the family integrity intact while also pushing herself to a greater success.