In a charming stone barn, a short walk from the cider ‘capital’ of Astigarraga, is Gartziategi, thought to be one of the world’s oldest cider houses. Ever since the 16th century, its barrels have been filled with liters of its exclusive Gorenak recipe, much admired by locals and anyone keen to experience a quintessentially Basque flavor. Be sure to book in advance to guarantee yourself a space. But don’t expect to sit down – it is usual in cider houses for the crowds to stand among the tables, making for a sociable, if slightly chaotic, experience.
Gartziategi, Martutene Pasealekua 139, Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain, +34 943 46 96 74
Next door to Gartziategi is Lizeaga, another long-established and visually attractive venue. It is run by twins, who are the fourth generation of the Lizeaga family to take on the business. They are enthusiastic about maintaining the old-fashioned, homely atmosphere. Many appealing details can be noted, including the baguettes that mark out reserved spaces and the multitude of flower baskets that adorn the exterior.
Lizeaga, Martutene Pasealekua 139, Donostia, Gipuzkoa, Spain, +34 943 46 82 90
Visitors to Gurutzeta can enjoy more than one northern Spanish custom. Every Wednesday evening, this cider house is filled with an otxote (Basque male voice choir), made up of local residents who belt out folk songs in exchange for their dinner. Alongside these jolly musical interludes, Gurutzeta has a faultless reputation for producing flavorsome cider, served in the traditional way. When the owner shouts, ‘Txotx!’ (the Basque word for cider, pronounced tchotch), a hole in a barrel is opened and the drink allowed to burst out for several meters before hitting visitors’ glasses. Apparently, this impact ensures that all of its nuances are brought out to perfection.
Gurutzeta, Camino de Oialume Bidea 63, Astigarraga, Gipuzkoa, Spain, +34 943 55 22 42
With branches in the three stunning cities of Oviedo, Gijón and Avilés, and the picturesque village of Colloto, Tierra Astur is one of Asturias’ most popular cider houses. Visitors should be prepared for it to be particularly busy as it is known as an excellent and memorable venue. In fact, its inventive interiors are almost worth the trip alone – cider-bottle chandeliers and intriguing wooden decor make customers feel as if they are sitting inside giant cider barrels. The company is so well organized, it even offers a free bus service between two of its branches, ensuring customers can fully savor the cider house experience.
Tierra Astur Gascona, Gascona 1, Oviedo, Spain, +34 985 20 25 02
Tierra Astur Poniente, Mariano Pola, Gijón, Spain +34 985 32 74 48
Tierra Astur Avilés, San Francisco 4, Avilés, Spain, +34 984 83 30 38
Tierra Astur Águila, Pol. Empresarial PC 2 NV 7,Colloto, Siero, Spain, +34 985 79 12 28
Named as The Guardian’s favorite Basque cider house, Zelaia is a prestigious forerunner in the region. Its family owners pride themselves on giving their establishment its own ‘personality’, with a friendly, exuberant atmosphere and a fine-tuned combination of modern production methods and rustic decor. In its scenic riverside location, it is a magnet for locals and holiday-makers, all looking to enjoy an authentic slice of northern Spain.
Zelaia, Martindegi 29, Hernani, Gipuzkoa, Spain, +34 943 55 58 51
Otsua-Enea is a leading light of Hernani’s famous ‘Cider District.’ Housed in a classic chalet-style building, it offers visitors a down-to-earth, convivial atmosphere. It also as one of the most in-demand Basque cider varieties, lovingly manufactured from extensive orchards. Like most cider houses, it also provides a tasty accompanying food menu, featuring Spanish stalwarts such as tortilla de bacalao (cod omelette), chuletas (pork chops) and membrillo (quince cheese).
Otsua-Enea, Osiñaga Auzoa, Hernani, Gipuzkoa, Spain, +34 943 33 37 09
This is one of the larger Spanish cider houses is Petritegi, whose barns can accommodate more 700 people and are regularly filled to capacity during the cider season. They offer a diverse menu, featuring wine and other drinks as well as cider, and exceptionally, the cider is served all year round rather than just during the spring. Those who are really keen on the cider house experience may want to consider signing up for one of their popular guided tours or tasting courses.
Petritegi, Petritegi Bidea, Astigarraga, Gipuzkoa, Spain, +34 943 45 71 88
Altzueta is a cider house rooted in one of the most dramatic periods of history. Its walls saw the birth and childhood of Second World War hero Florentino Goikoetxea. He helped hundreds of pilots stuck in the Nazi-occupied French Basque Country escape into Spain, and was awarded medals by four countries for his efforts. Altzueta proudly advertises its connection with him, and his nephew Juan still lives and works there, serving up top-quality cider to legions of enthusiastic visitors.
Altzueta, Osiñaga Auzoa 7, Hernani, Gipuzkoa, Spain,+34 943 55 15 02
A visit to Los Pomares brings with it the opportunity to explore more of Asturian cuisine than just cider. In March 2015, this family-run establishment won the first-ever prize for Best Fabada in the World, competing against dozens of other Spanish venues. Fabada is a quintessential Asturian stew, packed with white beans, pork, bacon, black pudding, chorizo and spices. If this sounds appetizing to you, you can sample it at its most flavorsome here, washed down by one of Gijón’s favorite cider brands, whose distinctive taste attracts a flock of visitors every year.
Los Pomares, Av. de Portugal 68, 33207 Gijón, Spain, +34 985 35 46 07
The owners of Llagares Valverán, who are already highly respected wine-growers, promise to give Spain ‘a whole new concept of cider’ with this innovative project. In the style of Canadian cider manufacturers, they freeze apples before pressing them, resulting in a beverage that tastes intriguing while coming from the heart of a cider-filled region. The ’20 Manzanas’ has been an unquestionable success among customers and has garnered praise from several national publications.
Llagares Valverán, Camín Rebollal 0901, Santiago, Sariego, Spain, +34 985 22 27 93