Bayfield County Wild Podcast
Episode 25: Cideries & Orchards
September is a wonderful time to be in Bayfield County. The orchards are getting ready for what is expected to be a great apple harvest. One of the newer trends in orchard country are cideries that can be found in the hills surrounding Bayfield. Director of Tourism Mary Motiff talks about the different types of cidery experiences and farm stores and takes us to Sunset Valley Orchard to hear about what the owners say is the best cider in Bayfield County! Plus, a preview of all the fall fun on this episode of Bayfield County Wild.
The Fruit Loop
There are nearly a dozen orchards that loop around Bayfield along the WI Lake Superior Scenic Byway and County J to form what is locally referred to as “the fruit loop.” In the past year or two, Mary says some of these orchards are now producing hard cider and each of them provide a different experience for the visitor.
Hard cider is brewed much like craft beer, only different ingredients are used in the fermentation process. Orchards like the Bayfield Apple Company and Erickson’s process their cider in-house and then send the cider to White Winter Winery to be brewed and then delivered back to the orchard where it is sold. Others, like Hauser’s and Pike’s Creek, have in-house cideries. Hauser’s Apfelhaus Cidery opened in 2018 and produces hard cider “from blossom to bottle.” The cidery at Highland Valley Farm is called Pike’s Creek and offers four varieties of sparkling hard cider. Not even open yet is Blue Ox Cider which was awarded a bronze medal for one of its ciders at the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition, the largest competition of its kind in the world! Look for Blue Ox with its award-winning cider to open in the spring. The White Winter Winery also brews four of its own hard ciders and some other hard cider from the Wineries on Betzold Road is being served in local restaurants.
Mary says most of these orchards have farm stores with value-added products like jams, jellies, honey, maple syrup, apple mustards, etc. Each store is unique to the farm and typically sell a variety of items, including clothes, jewelry and decorative items.
Apple season officially takes off with some varieties of apples available in early September and many more varieties each week after that. If you’d like to learn more, there are brochures available at the Bayfield County Tourism office, the Bayfield Chamber & Visitor Bureau and the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center. The Bayfield Chamber’s website also has a weekly orchard report so you can find out what varieties of apples are ready to be picked and where.
Sunset Valley Orchard & the Apple Branch
One of the most beautiful orchards to watch the sun set is aptly named Sunset Valley. Its owners, Craig and Sharon Johnson, bought the farm in 1967 and have had 52 fruitful years together there. The orchard grows 10 to 12 different varieties of apples, the most popular being Honey Crisp. They also have Cortland, Honey Gold, Spartan, Macintosh, Fireside, Fuji, Zest Star (which will begin fruiting next year), Gala and two kinds of pears. According to Sharon, they make the best apple cider in the County.
Visitors can pick their own apples or buy them pre-picked. Everyone is welcome at the farm to hike the trails, have a picnic and explore the orchard. While there, you’ll also want to shop at the Apple Branch, where you can find many one-of-a-kind items, housewares, jams, jellies, jewelry, scarves, home decor and seasonal items.
Sunset Valley is open Memorial Weekend through the second week in December, when the Apple Branch has a holiday open house. It’s located 2.5 miles from Bayfield just off Hwy. County J, then follow the big red signs to the orchard on Valley Rd. For more information, visit the Sunset Valley Orchard & Apple Branch website or check out their Facebook page.
Sept. 2: Port Wing Annual Fish Boil
Sept. 7: Pirates Ball
Sept. 7: Cornucopia Art Crawl
Sept. 7 Big Top Chautauqua “Old Last Night”
Sept. 14: Chequamegon Mountain Bike/Fat Tire Festival in Cable
Sept. 20 – 22: Red Cliff Days, Red Cliff Reservation
Sept. 21: Fish Flippin 5k Run/Walk in Iron River
Sept. 21: Big Tap Chautauqua
Sept. 25: Apple Pie & Dessert Competition, Bayfield Lakeside Pavilion
Sept. 27 - 28: Cable Area Fall Fest
Sept. 27 – 28: Birkie Trail Run Festival
We’ll find out what ingredients went into the making of the wildly popular Delta Diner.
Café Coco offers a breakfast, lunch and deli menu with daily specials, fresh pastries and baked goods, a large selection of breads, and custom-designed cakes for all your special occasions. Coco focuses on locally sourced foods and also offers Gluten-free, Vegan and Vegetarian options.
Drummond Lake Campground adjoins a public park with a swimming beach, a picnic pavilion and a paved boat landing. It’s located in the heart of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest at the trailhead of a vast ATV trail system with public parking and restrooms.