Business, Enrich, Explore

Rootwood Cidery

Although Rootwood Cider’s tasting rooms in Manson are relatively new, their presence in the Chelan Valley is not. The extended Koenig family settled first in Wenatchee in the nineteen teens before coming to Manson in the 1920s to own orchards and grow fruit. Today, they’ve expanded their agricultural know-how to include hard cider, and they’ve involved the entire family in the process.

Jim and Cheryl Koenig own 50+ acres of apples and cherries in Manson. Their three daughters – Emily, Kate and Anna – and their husbands – Nick McLean, Jesse Howard and James Caddey, respectively – are all involved in the cider making, production and selling process to some extent. Their first tasting room opened in 2015; the second tasting room, connected to their production facility on the Koenig orchard, came several years later. 

Each family member brings their own skills to the table, after spending time working in various fields. Kate Koenig Howard and James Caddey are co cider makers for Rootwood, working to create the modern-style, easy-to-drink beverage the cidery has become famous for. 

Rootwood’s ciders start with fresh picked apples from their own orchards. They use a mobile press that shows up at the orchard during harvest and produce anywhere from 15,000-20,000 liters of cider a year.

Cider Makers

“Generally, our ciders are quite clean and crisp, in the semi dry category,” says Howard. “We don’t do a lot of flavoring. We try to pick apple varieties or blends that are distinct in their flavors.”

In the wine world, their ciders would be considered “estate;” Rootwood uses fruit from their own orchards to create the majority of their ciders. Although many of their ciders are currently made with “dessert apples” – the industry term to describe the kinds of apples you’ll see in the super market, that are sweet and good for eating – the Koenigs have also grafted 10 heritage cider varieties onto three acres of Fujis. Heritage style apples are higher in tannins and not as great for eating right off the tree. 

Rootwood is wrapping their heritage as much as they can into the ciders they produce: their flagship cider, Harvest 100, used apples harvested in 2014. Its name celebrated the 100th year of family apple harvests in Washington. 

Although different rules apply to the cider industry, Rootwood uses similar concepts used in wine. They can’t use vintages – another term reserved for the wine industry – but their Harvest and Bin series ciders include numbers that change each year to make it clear to fans that the newest iteration is unique and made to reflect the best apples available for the blend. 

One of their most popular ciders is their Hop Infused, made with citra hops. The cider is easily drinkable, and has functioned as an easy introduction for visitors new to cider who may appreciate a nice hoppy IPA. 

“I think being able to be involved in the process from start to finish is my favorite part,” says Howard. “Being involved in growing the apple, the fermenting and the processing.”

“{I like} Seeing the apple enjoyed in another way,” says Caddey.” The apple is iconic to the valley and it’s nice to see it enjoyed in another way.”

Rootwood Cider currently has 8 ciders available for tasting. Their family-friendly tasting room in downtown Manson is open year-round; the production facility tasting room is open Saturdays only during the summer. To find their hours for any given season, go to rootwoodcider.com. 

You can also visit them – and many other local cideries – at the Big Chill Cider Fest on July 20 in Cashmere. 

Morgan Fraser

Morgan Fraser is a North Central Washington native with a penchant for travel, interesting stories and fresh local food. After traveling the globe and living in several different countries, Morgan found the community, fresh water swimming and laid back mountain lifestyle in Leavenworth too enticing to resist. She teachers Spanish and is the author of two regional wine-pairing cookbooks and a travel memoir.

Favorite quote: "If I could tell the world just one thing it would be: we are all ok. And not to worry, because worry is wasteful and useless in times like these." -- Jewel
Favorite color: the clear blue of a glacier-fed lake or river
Favorite apple: galas, fresh off the tree first thing in the morning