Ciders from the local Snow Capped Cider brand have been awarded top honors at a prestigious major international competition.
The local ciders made from fruit grown in Surface Creek Valley took two of the top three places in their class with gold medals, and a third Snow Capped Cider won a silver medal at the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition (GLINTCAP) held at Grand Rapids, Mich., on April 20-21.
"These award-winning ciders are what we make every day," said Kari Williams, marketing director for Snow Capped. The local company's three off-the-shelf ciders were not special, small batch runs as are sometimes entered in competitions, but "they are the same as people would buy off of any local store shelf," Williams added
Snow Capped ciders took two of the three top gold medal "best of class" awards at the GLINTCAP. Cider Makers Reserve took a second place and 6130 DRY won third place both in the heritage dry category competing against some 1,200 other entries, and also coming out atop 100 other gold medal finalists in the championship round of blind taste test judging.
In addition, another Snow Capped cider, Magna Pomum, was awarded a silver medal in the specialty category at GLINTCAP.
The Snow Capped Ciders are made by Williams Orchards from fruit grown by the family locally as it has for 105 years. The family's fifth generation is now preparing to enter the business.
"We have won other awards," Williams said. "Our hopped cider won a gold medal last year at the Portland, Ore., Hopped Cider Festival. Since that time we have reduced our line and eliminated that product."
Another of the company's ciders, Honey Crisp Ice, made from a popular apple grown by Williams Orchards "also won a silver medal in the Finger Lakes Wine and Cider competition," Williams said. "This cider was made literally by allowing honeycrisp apples to freeze on the tree before the fermentation process. When we reduced the line we eliminated this blend as well."
But the Snow Capped current lineup of eight main varieties and one rotating seasonal is getting plenty of top attention at local area festivals and competitions. Snow Capped labels have won "people's choice" awards two years running (2016 and 2017) at the Grand Valley Beer Fest.
"Our cider is the truest Colorado cider there is," Williams said. "It is clean and balanced"
All of the Snow Capped Cider recipes are originated by Ty Williams, Kari's husband, the company's master cider maker, and member of the family's fourth generation in the fruit business. He is assisted in production by cider maker Ian McDonald, and very batch they make is individually taste tested by Ty, Kari, and Ian.
Snow Capped began making cider as a business about four years ago, Kari explained. The cider products came first, before the business developed. At that time, Ty was making 19 different varieties. When Kari took over professional marketing of the products, she realized that the line had to be reduced to fewer varieties. It was a difficult decision taking some excellent, award winning ciders out of the product mix, she explained. But, the end result has been maintaining the highest quality with a more marketable line overall, and the results from GLINTCAP are proof of that. Snow Capped Cider is distributed statewide by distributors while a local cidery sales team serves areas closer to home.
Kari notes that the company's 6130 Dry that was awarded the gold medal and best of class honors at GLINTCAP came from the same, value priced, 12-ounce four-pack that anyone in Surface Creek Valley would buy at a local store.
Kari explains, "We have eight main line ciders: four sold in 12-ounce bottle four packs, and four sold in 22-ounce bottle four packs. With a rotating seasonal, this makes nine total. We also have a 750-ml. line of two premium ciders - the Cider Makers Reserve line that took the second place honors in best in class." Magma Pomum is sold in 22 oz. bomber.
Snow Capped Ciders are made at the cidery at Eckert and are available at the AppleShed tasting Room. "We can also do specialty small batch blends for special events and limited edition ciders in very low volume," Kari said
The four-year-old cider making enterprise is expanding. "In the last year the business has really taken off," Kari said. "We plan to branch out into Texas, where we also grow fruit, within this year." The products have a marketing tag line and hashtag that highlights the story of local, cider vintage fruit and the family's century-long growing heritage:
"Branch to bottle
Snow Capped Cider
105 years of Colorado
fruit growing tradition."
This local business is part of a proud family tradition that has truly grown from the ground up. The Snow Capped 6130 Dry is named for the elevation of one of the local orchards the fruit is grown in. The cool nights and warm days contribute to the fruit's high quality. The product has evolved from unique cider variety fruit from Old World stock. Heritage and dessert fruit varieties are also used. Kari notes that the Snow Capped ciders are made 100 percent from locally grown fruit and never use fruits or juices purchased from other growers. Williams Orchards has about 400 acres of fruit in total, she said, They also do packing for other growers at the Eckert packing shed.
"Ty is now at the helm," Kari said. Their children are preparing to be the family's fifth generation in the enterprise. "The business is product-focused and product-centered, Kari explains. From the branch to the bottles that are labeled by hand, it all begins with more than one hundred years of growing knowledge.
"Having the family heritage and the quality product is a very proud thing," Kari said."