Class of 2021
With a family cider-making tradition dating back to 1595, brothers Mikel and Ion Zapiain are bringing this time-honoured profession into the 21st century. From their cider house in the town of Astigarraga, the Mecca of cider-making in the Basque region of Spain, they are uncovering the true potential of a drink that has traditionally been associated with old customs and local traditions, and bringing it to the wider world.
Mikel and Ion have been expanding Zapiain cider house’s production, adding to the family’s prestigious natural cider and cider vinegar products a new ‘ice cider’, based on a technique first used to make ice wine in Germany, Austria and Canada. The brothers let the autochthonous errezile apples – a slow-ripening, sugar-rich variety – freeze while still on the trees. Thanks to their qualities, the apples slowly lose water and wrinkle without rotting, creating a natural fermentation process. By boiling the juice of the frozen apples, Mikel and Ion obtain a sweet cider, high in alcoholic content, which they named Bizi Goxo.
Already awarded with two golden medals at Cider World Frankfurt, Bizi Goxo has been attracting the attention of international cider lovers. The brothers have also developed a new line of organic cider made from a single apple orchard in Tolosa. But for Mikel and Ion, this isn’t enough: using a modern approach and an innovative communication strategy, they plan to make cider the coolest drink of the 21st century, appreciated by the young and old alike.
“Without Basque whaling, cider wouldn’t have been as important and our industry wouldn’t have flourished as much because fishermen used to bring cider with them on their trips and drink it to get their vitamin C and fight scurvy. We have to highlight the importance of our history, our traditions and the legacy we have received.” – Mikel Zapiain