If the idea of a Fruit Loop conjures up sugary Saturday morning cereal, you wouldn’t be alone. But out here in the Pacific Northwest, we Portlanders know it as something very different. In fact, an incredibly healthy alternative, the Hood River Fruit Loop is a series of U-pick farms and orchards specializing in Autumnal produce.
Great for day trips with the whole family, the Loop is a very simple drive from Portland: about an hour out Hwy. 84 along the Columbia River and then just up Hwy. 35 through the town of Hood River. On a clear day, the views are beautiful and as much fun as the apple picking. There are many farms along the Fruit Loop to choose from. Each has a myriad of apple varieties available at different points during the Autumn season, as well as pears, grapes and other fruit. You can see what is available and when everything is available on the Official Fruit Loop Website.
For my recent trip out there, I chose to visit one of the farms that is the farthest away from Hwy. 84, but well worth the extra few miles drive: Kiyokawa Family Orchards. Located in the small town of Parkdale, this very accessible family-run orchard has one of the largest selections of apple varietals on the Fruit Loop. I was on the hunt for my favorite apple—Honey Crisp—and I was not disappointed. The Honey Crisps at Kiyokawa were the size of softballs; red, delicious and ready to be picked.
Kiyokawa Orchards has many different sections to pick from, so even on the busiest of Autumn weekend days, there is never an issue of overcrowding or a lack of fruit to be harvested.
To commemorate my trip out to the Fruit Loop, I created a cocktail using one of the many amazing hard ciders that are produced out in the Columbia River Gorge, Son of Man Sagardo. A Basque-style cider, possibly the only one produced in this region, it has a very dry flavor that I thought would pair really well with the off-dryness of the Underwood Pinot Gris.
I just needed a little bit of herbaceous flavor to round out the cocktail and found that Dolin’s Génépy des Alpes, with its rich Artemisia flavor, worked perfectly. A very simple cocktail served on the rocks, it really embodies the full flavors of Portland’s most glorious season.
(Note: Son of Man can be purchased at a few places around town, but I found it at Belmont Station.)
Basque in the Glory
2 oz. Son of Man Sagardo Basque Style Cider
1 oz. Underwood Pinot Gris
1/2 oz. Dolin Génépy des Alpes
Pour all ingredients over ice, stir vigorously and enjoy!