Since this area of Basque country has limited wine production, we added a non-wine dimension today with a visit to a cider museum where, among other things, we actually made and drank our own.
We also learned how to catch the cider as it is squirted from the huge vats. We then went to a small producer for a typical local lunch of chorizo, bacalao omelet, fried bacalao with peppers,steak and local cheese with membrillo.
The town we visited, Astigaraga, is the center of local cider production with 19 producers. But there are over 100 producers in the entire Basque region so it’s an important part of the economy and culture. Here are some details we learned about Basque cider:
There are 70 varieties of apples used in production; the mix of apples focuses on 50% acidic apples, 30% bitter and 20% sweet/ fermented cider has between 5-6% alcohol/ all of the trees are grafted/ production dates as far back as the Romans who called it ‘apple wine’/ like the Romans, Basques used to mix it with the local water which was purified by the alcohol/say ‘txotx’ as the cider squirts out from the huge barrels/ sailors drank it to combat scabies because of its vitamin C/ the 16th century was the ‘Golden Age’ for Basque cider
You can read all about our Basque food and wine tour in the articles below: