Handcrafted Norwegian apple juices and ciders come out on top in international competitions and are created with a rock’n roll attitude. Learn more about the long traditions and latest trends at fruit farms in the fjords and the valleys.
Each May, tens of thousands of apple trees bloom in the beautiful southwestern Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord area. In the autumn, 'the world’s best apples', according to one of the world’s leading champagne experts, Richard Juhlin, are harvested by hand, and turned into world-class ciders.
In 2019, Norway took home two gold and six silver medals from The CiderWorld Awards. The reason?
“We have an almost anarchistic, slightly rock’n roll-like approach to fruit cultivation,” says Åge Eitungjerde.
Eitungjerde and his wife Eli-Grethe run Balholm, the award-winning company that makes handcrafted fruit juices and ciders. Balholm is located in the village of Balestrand by Norway’s largest fjord, the Sognefjord.
In the 1980s, several farms in this area started farming organically. For the numerous small fruit farms in the steep terrain, fresh thinking, diversity, and the ability to adapt has been crucial for survival.
Today, connoisseurs go so far as to compare Norwegian cider to champagne.
The unique microclimate along the narrow fjords has turned out to be ideal for apple cultivation.
“The sunlight reflected off the fjord increases the amount of light in our steep slopes. The fjord also has a cooling effect on hot summer days, while the warm Gulf Stream provides mild winters and mid-seasonal temperatures, even though we are located at about the same latitude as Alaska and Siberia,” says Åge Eitungjerde.
Since 2011, the designations 'Hardanger cider' and 'Apple juice from Hardanger' have been geographically protected in the same way as ‘Champagne’.
Today, more than 50 fruit farmers are members of the Cider Guild of Hardanger.
The young cider craftsman has turned his traditional family farm into an award-winning cider company. In October 2018, Aga Sideri secured the gold medal at the Hardanger Cider Festival.
Looking almost like a modern-day Viking, Joar takes a big bite of a bright and fresh apple as he gazes out across the Instagramable Sørfjord, the southern branch of the Hardangerfjord.
Thirsty Vikings made their brew, called Bjor, from apples and honey. In fact, archaeologists found traces of 54 apples when excavating the Oseberg Viking ship in Vestfold. Later, in the 13th century, monks who immigrated from England taught fjord farmers how to plant apple trees, kick-starting fruit cultivation in the region.
In the Hardangerfjord area, you can also enjoy the incredibly beautiful Fruit and Cider Route, where you can indulge in cider tasting, sample local food, visit farms, and try out a variety of cool activities. Don't miss the annual Hardanger Fruit & Cider Festival in Øystese, held in October.
“Hardanger has a cider for every taste. Just the other day, I invited a guest to sample eight different ciders. I never give up until I find the perfect match!” says Bente.
Ingvild’s enthusiasm is shared by Bernt Bucher Johannesen, director of Hanen, a guide to quality experiences in rural Norway.
“Norwegian cider has definitely become part of ‘Scandi cool'. If you go to the best bars in Oslo and ask for a special cider, the bartender will most likely be able to tell you about its origin, what farm it comes from and the soil,” he says.
The bar manager at Himkok, Odd Strandbakken, confirms this. “We have experienced an explosion of local quality labels.”
Himkok in Oslo is ranked as number 19 on a list of the 50 best bars in the world. In 2015, Himkok opened Norway’s first cider bar in its courtyard, which mainly offered imported labels at the time.
Handcrafters of cider and eplemost welcome thirsty guests, not just in the Hardangerfjord and Sognefjord area, but also in the Southeastern part of the country, such as the Fruit Village, Fruktbygda, in Telemark, and in Buskerud, Oppland, and Vestfold.
Learn more about ciders and eplemost, a new and exciting way to experience the most beautiful parts of Norway.
See our selection of companies that work hard to make you happy all through your trip.
Travelling can be thirsty work. Discover some delicious Norwegian beverages here!
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