DALLAS — Salt Creek Cider House has been a dream in the making.
“I grew up on this property; my family moved here in the mid-’80s,” said Carter Rickert. “I moved away. Went into the army for 10 years, but begged my parents to hang on to the property until I came back, and they did that.”
Carter and his wife Lindy moved from Nashville, Tennessee, in August of 2013.
“We knew we always wanted to do something with it — some sort of agritourism,” Lindy said. “We didn’t know what. We just knew it was a special place, and we would give it some time and let it speak to us. We found cider, or cider found us.”
There are 12 old trees that are original to the house, Carter said.
“(They’re) either 1903 or 1908, depending on what records you look at,” he said. “They always produced more than we knew what to do with. One day we were sitting out there and thought, ‘What can we do with all these apples?’”
There are a lot of orchards in the area that weren’t being used, Lindy said.
“We started foraging apples from our neighbors and our trees, and we started learning how to make cider,” she said. “Our friends and family really liked it.”
The couple took a class through Oregon State University to learn about the industry.
“Then we decided to go for it,” Lindy said. They formed a limited liability company in 2016.
“Three years later, we’re open,” she said.
Lindy works full time for the Oregon Association of Realtors.
Until about a month ago, Carter flew a helicopter for REACH.
“I’ve been flying since I was 16,” he said. “I flew in the army for 10 years, a news helicopter in Nashville for three years. Then moved here and flew REACH. I loved it, and it was great when I was in my 20s, but once I had a family, I wanted to be home with my family.”
With those jobs, he was away from home a lot, he said, and the job was risky.
“It was time to make the transition and come home and be with my wife and kids,” Carter said.
That’s one of the reasons they wanted to do a farm-based business, Lindy said.
“It’s the best decision I ever made, hands down,” Carter said.
Salt Creek Cider House held a grand opening on Sept. 28.
“It was incredible,” Lindy said. “It was great to see people from our community come out and support us.”
Carter said the grand opening was busier than they imagined.
“It really seems like the community has embraced what we’re doing,” he said. “Everybody wants to be on land or come visit a farm. It seems like it’s really resonated, and we appreciate the support.”
The Rickerts want Salt Creek Cider House to be a place for people to gather.
“What I’m very passionate about is bringing the community together,” Lindy said. “People can come spend time on the farm and drink a hand-crafted product made right on the farm.”
The process takes about a month, Carter said.
“My philosophy as a cider maker is you let the fruit and the yeast do the job it’s been doing for millenia,” Carter said. “Odds are it’s going to come out just fine. Let the natural process happen, guide it. Make sure it’s clean.”
About twice a month, visitors to the cider house also can make something.
The Rickerts look for local craftspeople to teach different classes.
Recently there was a “paint your pet” class, which, as the name suggests, guides participants through painting a portrait of their own pets.
There will be sign-making and wreath-making classes in November.
“I want to have at least two things a month, Sunday afternoons,” Lindy said. “It’s an alternative thing to football. Come and craft.”
The Rickerts plan to add lawn games and a playground, as well as hiking trails and a campground.
“Our children are 4 and 5 years old, so they are looking forward to the playground,” Lindy said. “We have lots of ideas, but we’re just staring. We’re excited to be open.”
Salt Creek Cider House is at 14500 Salt Creek Road, Dallas. For more information, saltcreekciderhouse.com.