XXXVI. TOPA! Cider Day of Donostia
The big day of cider has arrived in Donostia
Once again, the Sagardo Eguna has filled San Sebastian's Plaza de la Constitución with cider, culture and celebration. More than 5,000 people attended the event and were able to taste the best Basque ciders.
This year it was possible to taste the cider in a glass, an opportunity for those who came to also try the different ways of consuming cider.
In a festive atmosphere, those attending the Sagardo Eguna have enjoyed the numerous proposals around the culture of cider, offered by Sagardoa Route - Association of Cider Houses of Gipuzkoa -, organizers of the event together with the Donostia City Council, Donostia Festak, the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa and the Basque Government.
34 cider houses, which belong to the Association of Cider Houses of Gipuzkoa, have offered their best ciders from the 2022 harvest to the public. With the music of the trikitilaris and bertsolaris, approximately 8,000 bottles were served, accompanied by a variety of chorizo pintxos, tortilla de cod and cheese.
In addition to the tastings, the Association of Cider Houses has presented different proposals to publicize the activity of cider producers and their ancient culture, full of secrets unknown to the general public. Like, for example, the artisanal apple pressing process, which could be experienced live, including the tasting of the first must from the 2023 harvest.
Some special guests attended the event, such as Arantxa Tapia, Minister of Economic Development, Sustainability and the Environment; the first deputy mayor of Donostia, Nekane Arzallus; Bittor Oroz, Vice-Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Policy; Jesús Mª García De Cos, Vice Minister of Tourism and Commerce; Raúl Pérez de Iratxeta, Director of Quality and Food Industries; Xabier Arruti, Deputy for Green Territorial Balance; Jose Antonio Asensio, Deputy for Sustainability; Arantza Ariztimuño, Director of Agriculture and Territorial Balance; mayors and representatives of the municipalities of Hernani, Astigarraga, Ataun and Asteasu; Isabel Aguirrezabala, Director of Donostia Turismoa, representatives of the Euskal Sagardoa Denomination of Origin and other agents and representatives of agriculture, food industry and the hospitality industry.
Another of the activities of this Sagardo Eguna, which has generated interest among children and adults, was the exhibition on the different varieties of cider apples of the Fruitel Association, as well as the workshops on types of grafts and their techniques.
Pintxos and Idiazabal cheese in the center of the square
Thanks to the Petritegi Cider House we have been able to enjoy chorizo and cod omelette pintxos. In front, and next to the information point, we have had the Arizmendi family from Ordizia, who has been working for many years in the sale of Idiazabal cheeses.
The emotional chapter of the day was the tribute to the cider makers Joxe Mari Alberro (Alberro Sagardotegia, Hernani), Juan Ignacio Artola and Ana María Pascual (Satxota Sagardotegia, Aia); and Eugenio Urruzola (Setien Sagardotegia, Urnieta). These have received the association's commemorative pin from the President and the Board of Directors. On the other hand, we wanted to pay a special tribute to Simón Etxeberria, who died before we could pay him tribute, and to the Petritegi Cider House, for being able to offer us pintxos on this day all those years. At 12:30 and raising glasses, the official toast took place with the cider producers, institutional representatives, guests and honorees. The owners of these cider houses have dedicated their lives to cider.
Sagardoa Route: Cider Route of the Basque Country, Information point and excursions in the world of cider
In this edition, the stand with general information on cider and cider houses has served Sagardoa Route to present the products of its more than 53 associated cider houses, which produce more than 90 ciders of different varieties: natural, organic, sparkling, aged in wood, with hops, Denomination of Origin, organic juice and natural juice, among others.
On the other hand, September and the Sagardo Eguna provide the ideal opportunity, both for those at home and for visitors, not only to try the cider at its peak, but to discover the characteristics of the product: a low alcohol, refreshing and which fortunately maintains many of the characteristics and benefits of the apple. Drinked in moderation, cider, in addition to being healthy, is delicious as a companion to countless dishes.
At this information point, visitors have also been able to learn more about the cider tourist excursions. There are more and more wineries that offer this type of experiences and tourist products related to the culture of cider. Taking into account that they are receiving more and more foreign visitors, cider houses are preparing to work hard in this sector.
In a context of new markets, Sagardoa Route is born, a project to renew the cider sector, which works to strengthen its structure, facilitate its adaptation to new scenarios, and adapt tradition to our times and the different types of cider consumers, which is more varied every day.
As a result of defining the gastronomic and cultural experiences that cider houses have, SAGARDOA ROUTE has presented a wide range of tourist products this summer. The journey to our origins, the authenticity and veracity of the experience, and the closeness to the client are the strong points of this project. Being able to learn about the oldest and most traditional crafts of our land, always directed and appropriate to our times, meet the people who carry them out, taste their products and enjoy the exceptional panoramic views that the Basque Country offers us are the clear bet of Sagardoa Route.
There are already 61 cider houses, spread across different parts of the Basque territories that are part of the Sagardoa Route project. The cider made in them over the centuries attests to the origins and history of Euskal Herria.
This 2022 school year starts with greater force thanks to the SAGARRAREN TXOKOA project, created to work and entertain the little ones with experiences in nature and apple orchard tasks. We are working on this project with several schools and ikastolas and it is open to anyone who is interested in it.
Euskal Sagardoa Denomination of Origin – the big bet
The Denomination of Origin Euskal Sagardoa - Basque Cider has had its sixth harvest in 2022 and it will be this harvest that can be tasted during Donostia Cider Day. Ciders made with local apples will have a special role in the Plaza de la Constitución: each cider house will have ciders made with apples from their own apple trees and apple trees from neighboring farms, and among them there will be ciders made with one type of apple and two types of apples, apples from specific plots, aged in wood, aged on the lees of the previous harvest... In addition to producing high-quality ciders, cider houses have also taken a big step to diversify their product, betting on local apple, and Donostia is the perfect place to explain all this work.
And following in the wake of recent years, the Regulatory Council is working to have a greater presence of the products both on the shelves and in the hospitality industry, together with the cider makers, and explain the work carried out to consumers and allow them to taste all the products.
We expect an abundant harvest this fall 2023
The 2022 harvest was small in Euskadi, and 1.2 million liters were produced under the Euskal Sagardoa Designation of Origin in 50 cider houses in Gipuzkoa, Bizkaia and Araba with apples from 250 producers in these three territories. These are the ciders that are being marketed at the moment. The 2023 harvest is about to arrive and we can already provide some information: The harvest will be abundant and it can be expected that the apples will be of great quality, since it has been a perfect summer in most of the Basque Country. It has rained a lot intermittently and with the exception of a few days it has not been too hot. We therefore expect a much larger harvest in 2023 compared to last year. Apple harvesting will begin in a few days in most apple orchards in the Basque Country.