Best Of Minnesota: Apple Orchard

WEBSTER, Minn. (WCCO) — While Sweetland Orchard out of Webster, Minn., lost close to 90 percent of its crop – as many orchards had a tough 2012 – they were still able to churn out what WCCO viewers called the Best Apple Cider in Minnesota.

Sweetland Orchard is one of those places you won’t ever want to leave.

So it’s no surprise Mike Perbix and his wife, Gretchen, fell in love with it.

“My wife’s mother Diane, she mentioned, ‘Wouldn’t it be kind of cool to own an orchard?'” Mike said. “And that got the thought spinning.”

They took over the orchard just a few years ago, but quickly got to work on making killer cider.

“It’s almost like winemaking in a way, where a lot of times you just want to have good blends,” Mike said.

And that’s not a problem out at Sweetland. They have more than 50 varieties of apple spread around the orchard.

Just as important as what goes into the cider is what doesn’t. Unlike what you’d find on the shelf in a grocery store, at Sweetland Orchard they don’t pasteurize their cider.

“That just changes the appearance, and ultimately the taste as well,” Mike said.

But that’s not to say you can just throw any old apples in the press and expect gold to come out the other end.

“We’ve found that actually when you press multiple varieties, the cider ends up being muddied,” Mike said. “It’s not as pure.”

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