Hi there, in today’s post we want to introduce you to someone special – Henryk Nowakowski, the legendary of Polish cider maker. He is considered as doyen by other producers because he was the first producer in the country to make Polish ice cider. We had the opportunity to talk to him during his stay in Spain at SISGA.
I must say it was a pleasure to talk with him. I felt like our meeting was very important because you don’t meet often such an unusual person. He told me a little about himself, his career and family. He is a great storyteller and it is the type of person you can listen all the time.
Here is his story …
It all began over 100 years ago in Kresy Wschodnie (known in English as Eastern Borderlands) near Vilnius where lived his grandparents. His family has been producing cider continuously for a century. Family documents which survived the wars state that the production of cider (known as “jabłecznik” in Old Polish) was made by his maternal grandfather – Bronisław Mackiewicz.
After the Second World War, in 1945 Henryk’s family was resettled to western Poland to Trzebnica, near Wrocław (a region known then as Recovered Territories). This area has been known for centuries for the production of wine because there was a suitable climate for vine growing. Near his family house, there was an old orchard set up by Germans. His grandfather and Henryk’s uncle decided to continue the production of cider in a new place. Henryk as a 5-year old child was helping them in apple pressing. So it was obvious that he also would be interested in alcohol production when he grows up.
He continued home production but he wanted to sell his cider. So he took up a challenge and fulfilled all legal requirements (they are complicated in Poland) and start selling cider about 2009.
Henryk is also the first person in Poland to start making ice cider – 15 years ago a friend in Austria offered him ice wine and Henryk decided that he would try to make cider in this way. Interestingly, he thought that he was the first person in the world to make such type of cider – then he did not know that ice cider had been made in Canada in Quebec for many years before.
Despite this, he did not give up his production, and also shared his knowledge with other cider makers. It is thanks to him that we have now wonderful ice ciders made by Cydr Chyliczki and Cydr Ignaców.
His cider as the only one in Poland is registered by the Ministry of Agriculture as a traditional product. It is made from ripe, wine apples, coming from orchards located on the Trzebnickie Hills. The land of the Trzebnickie Hills has been known for centuries for the production of delicious fruit. Weather conditions, sun exposition and soil result in a high-quality product. Cider Cydr Tradycyjny z Trzebnicy is a mixture of three types of apples. The juice is extracted by press from the year 1947. The cider is unpasteurized, unfiltered, dry and slightly carbonated. Henryk also made a cider with a touch of chokeberry and elderberry.
His cider was first recognized in 2009 in a local competition “Our Culinary Heritage”. Henryk is a winner of numerous awards, including, The Best Taste of Lower Silesia 2014, a bronze medal at ENOEXPO 2014, The Pearls Award in the “Our Culinary Heritage” competition in 2015 (all in Poland) and recently he won a gold award in the ice cider category in SISGA (Spain).
Henryk is constantly improving his cider recipes, he promotes it at numerous festivals and food markets in the area. He hopes that his daughter, who now helps him in business, will continue the family tradition.