Interview Cristina Da Rocha
Cristina Da Rocha
Visits and activities coordinator at Cider House Petritegi
One of the most renowned cider houses in the whole of Gipuzkoa. The cider house Petritegi can be found in Astigarraga, heart and stronghold to cider in Gipuzkoa and wider Basque region.
This cider house has been producing excellent cider for five generations, made with apples from their own grounds. In principle, production was initially for family consumption. Nevertheless it didn’t take long to commercialize, selling to individuals, to other cider housed and, of course, supplying to fishing boats from Gipuzkoa.
Cristina Da Rocha is a member of the team from Petritegi and is the visit and activities coordinator.
Good morning Cristina, a pleasure to be with you. You’re the coordinator of visits and activities at Petritegi, could you tell us what your work involves?
Good morning, my work consists in managing all the activities offered at Petritegi related to guided tours, coordinating the guide teams, carrying out visits and serving to improve all the above. Also, coordinate the rest of the annual Petritegi activities, develop original projects and collaborate with others in the sector to create new synergies. It’s truly a great job!
Which season of the year do you receive the most visitors?
At Petritegi we offer visits throughout the year, but if I were to name a month that has the most visits … so far this year, it would be May. That is a beautiful season to tour when the orchards are in bloom and our landscape is even more spectacular. Another interesting season to come to Petritegi? Around September or October is the harvest collection of apples and cider-making season; travellers can experience first-hand, stages of the production process that in other seasons would be impossible to see. The smell of apples and recently pressed apple juice fills the entire surroundings of the farmhouse.
Regarding people and groups visiting Petritegi throughout the season, could you tell us if they’re local, national or international visitors?
The truth is that throughout the year, people visit from many places and concerning their nationalities, it varies depending on the month. In the ‘txotx’ (keg opening) season, the locals are the main visitors, cider being a deep-rooted tradition in Basque society. It’s true that in the last few years we have had a rise in national visitors, although the principal season is usually spring and summer. As for international visitors, they’re notably French and Anglo-Saxon world travellers, where the artisan cider movement has had a big uptake in the previous five years. In their own countries, cider is ‘in fashion’ and so they come and get to know the more authentic places related to traditional cider.
What type of product do they mostly request?
The most sought-after experiences are those that involve a guided tour followed by sampling the cider house menu. Local visitors are more inclined towards the ‘Gastronomy Experience’ including an hour length complete tour of every corner of Petritegi (farmhouse, apple orchard, presses and cellars) followed by lunch or dinner. The group or business visitors prefer the ‘Txotx Experience’ offering a half hour introduction to Basque cider culture with an audiovisual projection about Petritegi. This is followed by the conducting of a ‘txotx’ in the cellar and finally a lunch or dinner in the cider house.
We also have a growing demand for the business activities we offer in-house (multi-use spaces, exhibitions on Basque culture). This includes collaborations with other companies offering water sports (canoeing and trainera, traditional fishing boats with Arrauning, other activities from ‘Urumea el río de la Sidra’ or ‘Arraun-txiki’) or team-building activities (with Troka Abentura).
Petritegi receives visits from families, groups of friends, tourists and company groups. Have you noticed an increase or greater interest shown by agencies and companies in taking up visits, activities or events in your cider house? What type of activity or experience do they mostly request?
The truth is that agencies, as do companies, increasingly like to provide activities that are unique, authentic and multidisciplinary. Those that contain action, leisure, gastronomy, culture, etc. At the end of the day, they want their clients or employees ‘have a memorable experience’. Therefore, all on offer at Petritegi around this theme is found in the ‘Cider Break Experience’ concept. It encompasses everything from multi-use spaces right up to rural lodgings, experiencing the different activities mentioned earlier, the gastronomy, etc. The most requested, up to date, is the combo including the use of meeting or presentation rooms, guided tours and Basque culture (herri kirolak, dantza (dance), trikitixa Basque accordian) exhibition and cider house menu sampling.
How do you rate the synergy between your business and companies like Troka Abentura when designing products and meeting requirements of event agencies or other companies from the MICE sector?
At Petritegi, we uphold the ‘strength through unity’ ethos, so we’re convinced that this is an ideal collaboration for both companies. Together, we have the opportunity to create and offer better solutions for companies as much as for agencies to hold events. The offer, combined with activities that are varied, entertaining and authentic allow us position ourselves better in this sector.
What are your expectations for next year?
We hope to continue reinforcing our collaboration with Troka, an area we consider strategic, and ongoing to offer authentic experiences to the MICE public, companies and agencies and, of course, gain more cider enthusiasts!