At an idyllic location in Sørfjorden, one of the innermost branches of the spectacular Hardangerfjord, Lofthus Sideri is building on the proud legacy of local agriculture traditions. Here, four friends are making delicious juice and cider from hand-picked apples of the highest quality.

Hardanger is renowned for its ideal conditions for growing fruit and long history of making apple cider. English monks began growing apples and making cider in Hardanger as far back as the 13th century, and cider making competitions have been held in the area since the 1700s. All along the magnificent fjord, charming old fruit farms cling to the steep mountainsides. The area is known as the fruit orchard of Norway, and apple juices and ciders from Hardanger are considered to be some of the best in the world.

Lofthus Sideri: Extraordinary cider from the heart of Fjord Norway

Photo: Ivar Eidnes

Lofthus Sideri is the joint venture of four childhood friends whose families have run farms in the area for centuries. Fruit farmers Ivar Eidnes, Halldor Gjernes Lofthus, Halldor Elling Eidnes and Åsmund Eidnes Nedrevåg have continued the work that their ancestors have been doing for generations. In 2008, they brought the impressive local heritage to new heights by launching juice based on high-quality apples from Lofthus, followed by the addition of cider in 2018.

“We are committed and passionate fruit farmers – it’s truly a lifestyle,” says Ivar, managing director, who represents the 9th generation of his family to farm in Lofthus. “There are long-standing traditions of apple farming at Lofthus and in Hardanger, and we’re proud to be part of it.”

Lofthus Sideri: Extraordinary cider from the heart of Fjord Norway

Photo: Ivar Eidnes

Keeping proud traditions alive

Lofthus Sideri combines generations of specialised knowledge and experience with modern methods to create extraordinary drinks. 70% of the apples produced at the four farms are cultivated for consumption, while the remaining 30% goes into the team’s juices and ciders. The expansive fruit fields carry seven different varieties of apples, and each variety has its own unique qualities and characteristics. The close-knit team makes juice from all varieties, but only four are used for cider.

According to Ivar, the most important element in creating a good juice or cider is the quality of the ingredients. “In order to create exceptional products, the ingredients have to be exceptional,” he says. “We’re lucky to have an optimal starting point. The climate is well-suited for growing fruit, the soil is excellent and our apple fields benefit from plenty of sun, so the conditions are just right for our apples to grow well.”

A lot of work goes into ensuring the apples are of the best possible quality and making the most of them. The apples are all harvested by hand directly from the trees in the orchards and stored according to best practices before being pressed. “To create the best drinks from apples, you need to have a conscious relationship with the process. The right things need to be done at the right time,” Ivar explains.

Lofthus Sideri uses single varieties rather than mixing different types of apples with the aim of producing drinks with a pure and intense flavour. “We believe the best juice and cider is created by bringing out and highlighting the distinctive qualities of the apple varieties – we want people to be able to taste and enjoy the different kinds of apples,” Ivar says.

Lofthus Sideri: Extraordinary cider from the heart of Fjord Norway

Photo: Siv Dolmen

A stunning location in the heart of the fjords

Guests are welcome to visit the cider house located at the end of the Queen’s Hiking Trail, a popular mountain hike offering panoramic views of Hardanger. Based in an old barn from the 19th century, Lofthus Sideri offers the perfect atmosphere for enjoying refreshing drinks and tasty local food with beautiful views of the surrounding scenery.

The cider house is open for visitors every day during the summer, and the team holds cider and juice tastings for groups of up to 45 people as well as guided tours of the charming fruit orchards. Lofthus Sideri products to take home can be purchased from the farm shop or found in Vinmonopolet shops across Norway.

Though their days are busy, the dedicated team is always working on new ideas. The most recently launched product is an ice cider made with a unique method of freezing freshly pressed juice and straining the thawing juice before fermentation. The process results in an intensely flavoured cider that brings out the apple’s sweetness as well as emphasising its tart and fruity qualities.

An alcohol-free cider is currently in development and will be launching this autumn. “The sparkling non-alcoholic cider is an important addition as we believe there’s a big market for this. We’re excited to be able to offer a new tasty, alcohol-free alternative alongside our juices,” says Ivar.

Lofthus Sideri: Extraordinary cider from the heart of Fjord Norway

Photo: Ivar Eidnes

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Instagram: @lofthussideri

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