The old industry of traditional cider has strongly resurged in the town of A Estrada, where its production dates back to the Iron Age. Apple trees bloom in spring, and up to about fifty indigenous varieties of this delicious fruit are grown in the region of Tabeirós-Terra de Montes: rabiosa, marafouza, freixerana… beautiful Galician names for the raw material used to produce the liquid gold of this land. All these varieties which evoke the aroma of an ancient tradition.
As a result of the intensive work of local producers to revive this traditional activity, more than 100 hectares were planted with apple trees intended for cider production in the green valleys of the rivers Ulla, Umia and Liñares. More than a thousand tons of apples are harvested in A Estrada every season, and most of them are sent to non-local cider producers. However, around 50,000 kilos are used for the production of local cider.
The blooming period is from April to May, and the latest production is also marketed in these months. The amazing fields stretch in front of you and awaken your senses. There are more than 200 classified varieties of apples in Galicia, and a quarter of them are cultivated and used to produce cider in the town of A Estrada. After the harvesting and manufacturing processes, a delicious final product is obtained by combining sweet, sour and bitter apples. According to experts, this cider is sweet-scented and its taste is light and slightly sour, having plenty of body. A delight for the senses which can be paired with tapas of traditional products in the local bars and restaurants.
A local emerging industry
A group of apple producers and manufacturers founded the association Maceira e Sidra in 2011 to provide a final boost to the production of traditional cider. Even though cider manufacturing fell into decline more than 100 years ago, many houses still keep their old wine presses. Moreover, plantations started to be recovered in the late 20th century. The cooperative Maceiras do Ulla-Ullama was established in 2002 by the majority of the producers of the area. The production of apples in A Estrada is mainly organic, and the essence of the past, its nobility and authenticity have been preserved.
The cider festival known as Feira da Sidra has already become a key event where, apart from the local beverage, you can taste products from other four countries
The cider industry is experiencing a rebirth. The Feira da Sidra was born in 2012 and there visitors can taste ciders produced in A Estrada and in other areas in Rías Baixas with a long tradition in the production this beverage, as Bembrive, in Vigo, and others from other regions of Spain, Portugal, France, England and Germany.
In addition, the cooperative Maceira e Sidra holds conferences on cider tourism in the University of Vigo, as part of the content of the Master's Degree Turismo de Interior (Inland Tourism). Besides, some restaurants in A Estrada have included cider in their menus, which is a reflection of the rebirth of the industry, as this product has enormous culinary potential.
Other attractions in A Estrada
A visit to admire the apple trees in bloom is worth it during spring, but the town has much more to offer, as the traditional eighteenth-century manor house Pazo de Oca and its gardens known as "the Galician Versailles". This magnificent place is included in the Route of the Camellia in Rías Baixas.
Nature is another attraction, as in this town from the region Tabeirós-Terra de Montes you can admire very beautiful landscapes. The cascades of the Curantes River, the meadows known as Brañas de Xestoso and the Sacra de Olives Lagoon are some of the places you should not miss in your visit. The viewpoint San Miguel de Castro boasts the best panoramic views of the area. There, you can admire the legendary Pico Sacro Hill and the Ulla River.
If you want to get immersed in the traditions of A Estrada, you have to go to the festival Rapa das Bestas, considered of International Tourist Interest. It is held every summer and attracts visitors and photographers from all over the world who come to enjoy the epic fight between aloitadores and wild horses. Finally, to round off the visit, the town offers a wide range of bars and restaurants where you can enjoy local cider.