The Pacific Northwest, California and New York garner much attention when it comes to apple and cherry production in the United States. However, it’s the Great Lakes area that remains as the unsung hero we all need. Why? Its physical geography is similar to France: the ideal conditions for apples and cherries to thrive. In fact, the Great Lakes region has the nation’s most diverse apple crop, and Michigan leads the country in tart cherry production. For cherry ciders, the perfect storm rumbles here. These cider bottlings embrace local resources, and make cherry ciders with compatible blends of tart and sweet – just in time for you to sip this spring.
King’s Cherry | Bee Well Meadery | Bellaire, MI | At Bee Well Meadery, brothers Chris and Jeremy VanSice work to create concoctions with honey they gather from their own bees in the Northern Michigan orchards. But the crowd favorite? King’s Cherry Cider. This cider is a balance of sweet and tart, with a prominent cherry flavor and a mellow spice on the nose. The apples and tart cherries hail from King’s Orchard – a Northern Michigan grower that the VanSice brothers have partnered with to create this truly local cider.
Cherry Rhubarb Scrumpy | Sweetland Orchards | Webster, MN | Sometimes, great things have a rough beginning. The Cherry Rhubarb Scrumpy from this orchard-based cidery started as a “quintessentially-Minnesotan problem:” too much rhubarb in the garden. Sweetland owners Mike and Gretchen Perbix decided on a new solution and created a new cider recipe, blending rhubarb with the last season’s cherry syrup. The two work harmoniously with the Minnesotan-grown apples, resulting in a new top pick.
Crimson Dew | Northville Winery and Brewing Co. | Northville, MI | Initially opening as a winery, Northville has evolved into a triple threat – producing beer, wine and cider. And they show no signs of slowing down over the 30 years since their doors opened. Their own cherry cider – the Crimson Dew – is a standout. A perfect marriage of Michigan apples and tart, Balaton cherry juice. This semi-sweet cider makes for an easy, smooth sip. Can’t get enough? Try a summertime Sweet Cherry Pie Slush at their Northville taproom.
Apple Cherry Cider | Island Orchard Cider | Ellison Bay, WI | What was once a small apple orchard overlooking Lake Michigan has turned into one of Wisconsin’s most beloved cider producers. Owners Bob and Yannique Purman pride themselves on producing traditional, French ciders. Their dry, Champagne-like qualities set them apart from traditional American ciders. Island Orchard’s rendition of the cherry cider is just that – dry and crisp with a light body. The cherry pucker gives it a “clean vividness” that can accompany any meal.
Wakefire | Blake’s Hard Cider | Armada, MI | Blake’s Hard Cider strives to be authentic; farm to glass. Their orchards – Blake Farms – have been operating since 1946, growing over 40 different apple varieties and running one of the largest cider mills in the country. Blake Farms finally broke into the hard cider business in 2011. This Armada landmark now creates their own tribute to a Michigan summer in the form of Wakefire: a sweet, “comforting blend” of Blake’s apples, cherries and orange peel.