Crystie Kisler Embraces Traditions on the Olympic Peninsula
Spend a few minutes talking to Crystie Kisler, co-founder of Finnriver Farm & Cidery, about her admiration for apples and treating the soil with kindness, and it’s clear that each bottle of cider is crafted with a lot of love and appreciation. The Chimacum-based cidery has a vibrant tasting room on a historic dairy farm 10 miles south of Port Townsend, making Kisler’s assertion that Finnriver is “not just a product line, but a place” all the more apt. Stop by the Cider Garden to sample (remember to designate a driver), stroll through the orchard and socialize at the 75-foot table in an old feeding trough made of reclaimed wood from a dilapidated barn. On weekends, live music and food vendors (in summertime) pair perfectly with the complex, nuanced ciders and fruit wines.
What drew you to farm life?
After college, I ended up in Yosemite National Park working for an organization that led children on tours. From there, I had a very strong connection to the natural world, and I got interested in how farming and our experience of eating food could bring us in closer connection to the land.
We’re in a small minority of cideries committed to organic fruits; you can really taste the brightness and the beauty. Organic production methods both improve the nourishment derived from the food and ensure that we’re caring for the land in a way that will allow future generations to be fed by it.
Cider is exploding in popularity. Why do you think that is?
Something that’s unique about cider in terms of its revival is it’s both a very old thing and a very new thing. Cider had a long and venerable European tradition, it had an early colonial tradition in America, and then it sort of went underground. As it’s reemerged in the last 10 years, people have been intrigued by the history of it and excited to taste something new.
What’s fun to do in the area?
Fort Flagler, on Marrowstone Island, is a beautiful state park on the beach that looks across the bay to Port Townsend, and there’s wonderful hiking in nearby Quilcene. For restaurants, The Fireside at the Inn at Port Ludlow sources a lot of local food.
What’s it like raising kids on the farm?
We love that [our two boys, 10 and 14] have fresh air and open spaces to frolic in. They’ve spent a lot of time barefoot and played in the dirt a lot—dirt is a cheap toy.