With a slogan “Locally Owned, Locally Grown” Northern Natural Cider House in downtown Traverse City is the newest addition to the growing trend of local-made cider in Northern Michigan. Featuring award-winning ciders, starter dishes, wine and entrees, it’s the perfect place for a Friday night date or an evening spent with friends. Enjoy the live music and delicious Northern Michigan food and drink at this beautiful cider house during your Northern Michigan vacation. MyNorth’s Kelly Brown had a chance to talk with proprietor Jenifer Mackey to find out what makes these ciders award-winning.
Northern Natural Cider House is one of several stops along the Waters D’Vine Tour, which visits organic food and wine vendors in Traverse City. Tickets to the tour can be purchased at MyNorthTickets.com:
Tell us a bit about your ciders.
Iced Cider is a sweet, rare dessert wine; Northern Natural Cider House is one of a few North American wineries that makes this type of apple wine—it’s a hand-selected variety of certified organic heirloom apples with red, juicy apple flavors, balanced acidity, roundness, and a thick liquid-gold color.
Our Traditional Dry is a blend of family-grown, local, certified-organic heirloom apples: it’s semi-dry and charmingly effervescent, with a crisp, green apple aroma. The Blueberry Apple is a blend of Traditional Dry and wild blueberries—semi-dry, blueberry peel on the palate, natural balance of acidity to sweetness, and a beer-lover’s house favorite.
Northern Natural is home to award winning ciders. Can you explain which ciders those are and what awards they have won?
We started entering competitions in 2013, and since then our results have improved. I’m looking forward to entering our Barrel-aged Hard Cider, Lavender, Cherry, and Shady this year. Ciders won awards in 2013 at the following competitions:
- Great Lakes Cider & Perry Competition:
- Dry Hard Cider, Bronze in New World Hard Cider
- Apple Iced Cider, Silver in Intensified Ice
- Michigan Wine and Spirits Competition:
- Iced Apple Cider, Bronze
- Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition:
- Blueberry Apple Hard Cider, Gold in Fruit Cider
- Iced Cider, Gold in Intensified Iced
What is the inspiration behind the cider menu? Do you pull from what is in season in Michigan?
We’re inspired by local trees, herbs and berries that grow in Northern Michigan. We’ve been farming and working with local organic farmers since 1997. Since then we’ve grown in production in all areas, including wine and hard ciders. My husband, Kyle, is the son of co-owner/farmer of Northern Natural Organic, Dennis Mackey, and is a chef graduate from NMC’s culinary institute. He’s been a blessing to this company with his professional expertise in our cider production site and our tasting-house kitchen. Northern Natural Organic’s philosophy is this: drink for the health of it. We hand-select varieties of fruits, herbs and berries that bring out the optimal flavor and nutrition for a healthier community and environment.
How about your food menu? What is the inspiration behind that?
Our food menu is another outlet for us to continue to connect, grow and support local farmers and the organic movement. As mentioned, Kyle is a chef and has been raised cooking fine food. I’m passionate about keeping our food as local and organic as possible—everything simply tastes better. Keeping our focus in our community has inspired us to become more and more creative with our menu.
What is the most popular cider? Or, maybe, the one that everyone would like?
Most customers have their own idea of what is the best on the menu—it depends on the seasonal rotation and whether drinkers tend to like dry or sweet. Our Cranberry Ginger, Traditional and Blueberry would be my top picks in 2014.
What has it been like since you opened?
We’ve been blown away by the community response. Artists, musicians, the wine trail, farmers and most important our customers have positive reviews. It’s more than we could have asked for, and watching the connection grow more and more in the first year is inspiring.
Anywhere else we can grab your ciders?
Our Hard Cider is sold at Brew, Mackinaw Brewing Co., Poppycock’s, OM Café, Patisserie Amie, Pangaea’s Pizza, The Cabbage Shed and numerous music festivals. Our distribution will increase around the state this fall as we get into production of bottled cider.