Hardangerrådet by Trude Lægreid Rinaldo
The young generation is coming home to be farmers and produce cider. They are taking knowledge and traditions into the future. A very important change we did not believe in, only a few years ago. The spirit and energy they have, is transmittet to all of us, giving new beliefs for our rural future.
Why are they coming home? Because fruitframing has become economically sustainable with further prosessing, in this case of apples. But we also see young chefs and others believing in a rural future.
The cider producers of Hardanger, with all their professionalism and knowledge, also inspire young farmers and producers to move to other rural aereas and produce cider. Quality is a key factor in this adventure, to exist and to grow. Obtained experience in Hardanger, and elsewhere is shared among all, and we see new producers all over the country. The other cider regions of Norway as we speak are Sogn og Fjordane, Ryfylke and Telemark. They are working hard and systematically to be seen, and they are making very good ciders.
National cider cluster
A political seminar was arranged this spring at the “Internationa Ciderfestival in Hardanger”. Main target was to discuss the way forward and how to work together on a national level, based on the current situation in all the cider regions of Norway. Producers and cider regions from the whole country were all invited to this seminar, to present themselves and to talk about the future.
One of the conclusions is to work for a National Cider Cluster. The success of having a cider cluster in Hardanger has been of great importance to the development of this adventure. Producers see that together they are strong and attractive. It is together they are growing and creating. Their competition does not lay within themselves, but with intertnationally prodcts they can compete with at the Winemonopoly and in restaurants.
Marketing and selling
What has the Winemonopoly meant for Norwegian cider? Maybe more than we think. They are the only shop where you can buy wine and cider in Norway, and it is a national government owned retailer. This means the cider is presentet to all of Norway, and with growing popularity, it gets more and more shelf space. Yes, they are of great importance, both for marketing and for sales of Norwegian cider. At the moment, Norwegian cider is their most growing product in sales figures.
The important agreement from 2016, when the fruitfarmers for the first time were allowed to sell their own cider from their farms. This was the big gamechanger, and the start of the adventure. At this point many new producers started. Also the tourist industry saw the potenitial, and Hardanger now has many activities where cider is the main attraction. This brings many guests to the farms, learning about ciderproduction, but they also buy cider to take home.
Now the government is seeing what a treasure Norway has, with its quality ciders. Resently they have decidet to serve Norwegian cider at all the embassies. It seems all natural when looking back, but until recently we have been serving Wines from other countries. A very important decition for Norwegian producers. It is an honour and it is confirming the quality.
The quality is continuously getting better, and also new types of ciders are reaserched and developed. The other day I tasted a new Pet Nat made with techniques from the wineworld and apples from Hardanger. This is only one of many new ciders. At the moment there are 23 professional cider producers in Hardanger and about 50 totally in Norway.
If you want to know more about Hardanger and cider here are some addresses:
Taste Hardanger; Visit Hardangerfjord; Siderlandet; Siderklynga
NIBIO Ullensvang has been and will continue to be of uthermost importance for the deveopment of cider. Since 1949 they have done reaserach on belf of the fruitgrowers and are located at the heart of apple production at Lofthus. Building a National Center for Fruit and Cider next to NIBIO at Lofthus seems very good, where it will be close to science, culture, history and tourism. Education, both of professionals and visitors, is an objective for the center.
Festivals and Cider Challenges
The producers and local communities have for many years arranged festivals in the name of cider, which are getting more and more populare. New and bigger festivals are “Hardanger internasjonale Siderfest” and “Norsk Siderfestival”. They are all important for sharing knowledge and joy, marketing of the ciders and for inviting guests to our and others regions. For the first time in Norway, by Hanen, we are inviting producers from all over the world to come to the Nordic International Cider Awards 8.-10.11.2022 in Bergen.
Hardanger is a rural region in the middle of an adventure. Why? Because of cooperation and enthusiasm between producers, knowledge, science and the cider cluster. Because of interest from the local authority and work through international projects as our “Uncorking rural heritage”, where experience and knowledge are exchanged across borders and environment. Because the young are moving to Hardanger.