Drive through Garden City and you will find craft breweries, wineries, and Meriwether Cider. Inside the Chinden Boulevard taproom, one family with a strong sense of community is leading the way for cider makers in the Treasure Valley.
Walk into Meriwether Cider and you will quickly see the Leadbetter family loves making cider.
"Almost every one of us has been a part of the process in some way, whether it's packing the bottles or pasteurizing, we've all touched those bottles and kegs. So it's a very personal, and a very labor intensive, but rewarding process," said Kate Leadbetter, co-owner and event coordinator.
From start to finish, their entire cider making process is done in Garden City. Kate and her sister Molly, along with mom and dad, Ann and Gig, all came together to start the business in 2016.
"We were all at a crossroads in life. My parents were both professors and they were retiring from that. My sister and I were seasonal workers, we were wildland firefighters, so we were all looking for something different. My mom first had the idea to try out cider and my dad started making some and got pretty good at it. So we thought this could be a reality," Kate Leadbetter said.
Named in honor of their love for adventure, and relative Meriwether Lewis, the cider is brewed from Northwest apples. They add fruit from local farms to create the five mainstay flavors, plus monthly seasonal ciders. Blackberry Boom and Hop Shot, a hopped cider, are among the favorites.
"I'd like to think we're pretty inventive with the flavors we come up with. My dad is a scientist, he was an exercise physiology professor and did a lot of research, so he's really honed the recipes to be very clean and just a great base to layer our flavors on top of," Kate Leadbetter explained.
It's proven to be a successful business for the family, now expanding into Downtown Boise. Meriwether Cider House is expected to open on 9th and Bannock in early September. It will be a bar with 20 different local, regional, and international ciders on tap, plus more served by bottle. The Leadbetters welcome any opportunity to share their cider knowledge.
"People come in and drink a cider and we can tell them about it, but that's totally different than actually doing it," Kate said.
Each apple season, Meriwether Cider lets people of all ages help out by making a community crush cider. Backyard apples are donated from families across the valley. Then there's a big party to crush the apples together.
"I think they're excited and they feel a part of the process which they completely and utterly are," Kate continued.
Meriwether ferments the juice and when the cider is ready to sell, all proceeds go to the Treasure Valley Food Coalition.
The "Made in Idaho" cider brings joy in every sip.
"We want everybody to have a sense of community and be able to interact with us on several levels, and be able to form friendships. It's cool to be able to involve people," Kate said with a smile.
You can find Meriwether Cider in stores throughout Boise, plus in local bars and restaurants. The Garden City taproom is located at 5242 Chinden Blvd. Dogs are welcome! Brunch is offered the first Sunday of every month. Kate says the specialty "cider-mosas" are always a big hit.