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The seeds of French Cider were sown in a café in Saint-Enogat, Brittany, as my family celebrated the start of a French vacation. I ordered my first bolée (the traditional ceramic cup used in Brittany) of cidre to accompany my slice of pizza and salade nicoise. I still remember how fantastic the cidre tasted - a refreshing, crisp, brut cidre that immediately made that warm, summer day in the little café just a little more magical.

I enjoyed a lot of French cidre during that vacation, discovering that there is a surprising diversity of French cidres available. Once back in Seattle, I tasted dozens of European and domestic cidres, determined to find something I loved. But nothing took me back to that moment in Saint-Enogat.  Two years into my search, talking to chefs and food lovers along the way, I finally, as an entrepreneur, took the only step that made sense to me:  I launched French Cider. And here I am today bringing you the finest cidres that France has to offer. 

French Cider has woven parts of my life together in a way that I couldn't have foreseen. Years ago, I finished my last year of Stanford enrolled as an exchange student in a French University. I finished my degree in French Studies there and also became fluent in French. I fell in love with the French way of life. The culture, the language, and of course, the fresh, simple approach to meals all left a huge impression on me.   I came back to the U.S., more aware of the food I was eating and more committed to finding natural, wholesome alternatives. Organic, non-GMO food, vegetarian cooking, and the simple pleasure of eating straight-forward food found its way into my life.  Apparently I had left France but France hadn’t left me!

Then, a year ago, with my import business rolling forward, I was in Normandy meeting with producers, when I realized another part of my life was being woven into place.  The whole experience of being in Normandy felt vaguely familiar. I found myself meeting people who reminded me of home and family: hardworking farmers, dedicated to their way of life, and passionate about their heritage. My father's family farmed in Eastern Washington for five generations before I was born. And while I didn't grow up on a farm, I found that the Normandy farmers with their fields and orchards have provided me an unexpected connection to my own heritage.

I'm excited to offer you a glimpse into the world of French cidre and Calvados. A world defined by a strong sense of terroir, and made intriguing by the thousands of beloved varieties of apples and pears grown just for cidre-making. I’ve traveled the back roads of Normandy, Brittany and Picardy seeking out the best and most delicious beverages that are different from anything you've ever tasted. I’ve spent time with each of our producers, meeting their families, sharing meals and listening to stories of bumper crops, devastating storms, tight knit communities and the lengths they go to preserve their heritage. I consider myself privileged to be a small part of their lives.

Come, get to know the beauty in the apple and pear cidre-producing regions of France, the incredible heritage of cidre-making and Calvados production, and the amazing people behind the beverages that we offer.  I hope, like me, you'll enjoy the bounty that nature has offered and find yourself transported to your own magical café. And maybe, like me, you’ll come to realize that there's more to apples than just cidre, and more to pears than just poiré!  Calvados, pommeau and pear liqueurs are also waiting to be discovered and enjoyed.  

It's time to say 'bonjour' to your new favorite beverage. 

Joan Harkins

Founder and CCE (Chief Cidre/Calvados Enthusiast)

 

Joan Harkins with a bottle of French cidre