Growing fruit and making cider is closely tied on the west coast of Norway, and grandfather Andreas Eitungjerde planted the orchard in 1922. When grandson Åge took over in the mid 90s, he looked for new ways to use the fruit. He quit his job as university college professor to establish Balholm and the Ciderhouse. Balholm – back then called Golden apple – became a pioneer product; the first all natural juice on the Norwegian market.
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Grandfather Andreas to the left, his grandson Åge in the middle, and Gard, Åge's son to the right.
Balholm has for 20 years worked with apples, fruit growing, manufacturing apple and berry juice of different kinds. Today Balholm has six employees and produces around 300 000 liters beverage each year. In 1999 Åge imported branches from 13 different cider apple varieties from Normandy and Somerset, and grafted about 1000 trees that are now carrying plenty of fruit. This was the first time cider apples like these was grown in a Norwegian climate. ‘Cidor’, ‘Belle Fille de la Manche’, ‘Major’, ‘Ellis Bitter’ and ‘Yarlington Mill’ are some of these varieties. The bitter flavor from these apples gives the same experience as tannin in wine and hops in beer; it gives a sharper taste that last longer. Also in our apple brandy these varieties contribute to a longer, more complex flavor. In addition we use the whole fruit with skin and core, thus all the aromas add taste in the distilling.
Today Balholm delivers a big part of the organic production to Godt Brød's bakeries in Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim
Balholm's goal is that organic juice from Sogn will be available in grocery stores all over the country. Currently the access to fruit is too small for this. We are therefore working to increase the organic fruit production through establishing contract growing. Together with Økoringen Vest, Sogn Jord- og Hagebruksskule and Planteforsk Njøs department, Balholm has for years contributed to a professional level increasing of the organic fruit production that has had clear ripple effects in the rest of the country. The alliance between research, advisory services, growers and manufacturing gave tangible results after only a few years. Sogn is today the fruit region in Norway with the highest level of authorized organic fruit producers. In Aurland and Balestrand over 10 % of the agricultural land is converted to organic.
Today Balholm has six employees and produces around 300 000 liters beverage each year.