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The Cider House Rules

There is a strong tradition of cider making here in the Basque Country.  Sagardotegies (cider houses) are very typical in the province of Guipuzkoa but cider is also made here in Araba and the “Sagardotegia Iturrieta” was inaugurated in 1998 with a view to reviving that tradition.

This is a very small family run cider house.  It has it’s own orchard with around 600 apple trees which they hope to double in the next few years.  Any additional apples are sourced locally in the valley of Aramaio and nearby.  The trees are all traditional Basque and Asturian varieties.  These are trees which would simply have vanished if it wasn’t for initiatives such as “Sagardotegia Iturrieta”
We have lived for too long by an economic system whose principal philosophy is, “business is business and business must grow”.  This has created a perilous situation where we have literally placed all our eggs in one basket.  The brewing industry is a perfect example.  Only fifty years ago there were thousands of little breweries and cider houses all over the world brewing all sorts of delights.  Now there are just a handful.  We have moved from a  situation where there was lots of choice to one where there is no choice at all.
At “Sagardotegia Iturrieta” there is lots of choice and I was tremendously lucky to be invited to an event to mark the inauguration of this years cider.  I tried five different organically-produced ciders each with their own particular characteristics.  These ciders  must be “broken” before drinking.  To break the cider it is poured from a height into the glass.  The glass is only filled with a little cider.  To fill it up to the top would be very bad form.
Glasses are chinked with a shout of “Txotx!”  /chotch/ (Cheers!)
The cider was accompanied with tortilla (Spanish omelette), morcilla (black pudding) and sopa de ajo (garlic soup).

A typical menu at “Sagardotegia Iturrieta” starts at 12€ and includes three courses and a bottle of cider.   Traditionally people eat cod omelet, T bone steak, cheese and quince jam, washing it all down with copious amounts of cider direct from the barrel.
This is what Bizipozatours is all about, connecting you with the authentic Basque experience and promoting a sustainable future for all of us!

You can sample the atmosphere at Sagardotegia Iturrieta in this short video


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