A few behind the scenes shots from Kodiak Cakes’ content shoot at the A-frame in November, 2022. The imagery was used to promote a giveaway with Tin Cup Whiskey and Teton Waters Ranch. Check out the results on their Instagram page.
At home and in the Wild
In 2012, shortly after the birth of our first son, Jenny had an idea: “We should start a cider company,” she said. We were living in a 900 square-foot bungalow on Ogden’s East Bench, and had an old apple tree that produced an abundance of wormy, green fruit that wasn’t good for much besides rotting and making a mess. Still, constantly raking and mowing those apples planted a seed. The thought of pressing apple juice and fermenting it into cider aligned nicely with our Northeastern roots, but it was something that we had never done. “Maybe we should see if we can make cider first,” Derek replied, and the idea sat in stasis for the next two years.
Around Christmas of 2014, now with a 2 ½ year-old and a newborn, we moved into our new home in Huntsville. The following fall we bought a small press, an apple crusher, some buckets and carboys, and a few books. After a lot of effort, and a fair amount of error, we learned that not only could we make cider, we were even pretty good at it.
Seven years gone, and we still haven’t pulled the trigger on a commercial operation. We’ve registered a brand, we print labels, and we pass out or ship bottles to buddies every thanksgiving, but that’s as far as we’ve gotten. Instead, it’s become a year-long passion, particularly fervent in the fall when the wild apple trees found throughout the Ogden Valley start bearing fruit.
In 2016, we acquired the lot behind us. We had no plans for it; we just had an opportunity and wanted to preserve our space. The first thing we did was plant six apple trees of various cultivars. The next was to decide what to do with this space. It isn’t suitable legally or environmentally for a cidery. Meanwhile, we have friends and family scattered across the country. An investment that could double as a place for them to stay seemed like a good idea.
We finally settled on building this A-frame. The cozy confines of an A-frame cabin always embodied mountain comfort to us. This structure design is also part of the legacy of the Ogden Valley—the Mt. Ogden Ski Club, the Huntsman Lodge and the Hill Haus at Snowbasin; the old base lodge at the original Powder Mountain rope tow. A-frame houses are still in abundance around Nordic Valley. Of the six trees we planted, two were killed by voles. We relocated three to our yard. The sixth, a Macintosh, is still here, standing sentry by the northwest corner of what we now call the Huntsville Cider House A-Frame.
If you come through in the fall, you may catch us pressing. We make small batches using apples from neighbors’ trees, a few from our own, some we pick up from our friends at Paradise Valley Orchard, and a lot that we forage locally. We share what we make with family and friends across the county. If we have some on hand, that could mean you.
That’s how we ended up with this A-frame, and how it got its apple and cider theme. It doesn’t explain how we ended up here in the first place. The short answer is we love to ski, so much so that we planned our vocations around it. Work brought us together, and fortune landed us in Huntsville.
Jenny moved to Ogden when Salomon Sports relocated from Portland, Oregon, and still works in the company’s North American headquarters. She was raised in Eastern Pennsylvania and graduated from the University of Vermont, including a semester studying and working as a liftie in New Zealand.
Derek was raised in Central Connecticut, and graduated from Western State in Colorado. He left his job as the editor of Powder Magazine and moved to Ogden when we decided to have Hugo, our first child.
Our two boys, Hugo and Kier were both born in Ogden, and have lived in Huntsville for as long as they can remember. As our neighbor put it—in reference to his own 80-something years in town—they don’t know any better. They are just starting to realize that people travel from around the globe to our valley, just to do the things their parents make them do on the weekends.