After more than 20 years experience homebrewing, Dave Carr of Raging Cider & Mead Co., switched it up and started making cider and mead, partially to accommodate his wife Kerry’s gluten intolerance. By 2015, the cider and mead company was officially off and running, and the couple had a thriving orchard in the nearby farming community of sunny Valley Center, California.
Through the years, the Carrs have experimented with growing their own food, including growing the apples for the Raging Cider, as well as the practice of foraging wild foods.
In addition to their own land, the couple manages three orchards in the area with a goal of adding 12 acres in the near future. The added acreage in San Diego County will increase the supply of cider-specific apples. One of the orchards located in Julian is a hotspot for pears and apples. “There’s a higher solar intensity and fall winds drive sugars in the apples, which means more flavor and a higher ABV,” Dave Carr says of the fermented result.
When more fruit is needed, the Carrs offer local farmers an income stream for their less-than-beautiful fruit that ends up full of flavor for fermentation.
Those apples on their orchards are then wild-fermented with the native yeasts that exist in the orchards, the pressing equipment and in the ciderhouse. Raging Cider takes a traditional winemaking route to producing both traditional and sidra-style ciders, which are fermented and aged in barrels, and range anywhere from 7 to 11 percent ABV.
Along with cider, Carr produces mead and perry to round out the tap list for the rest of the year once harvest is done. Right now though, the focus is still cider.
“One thing I’m real excited about is something I’ve been developing for three years,” Carr says.“It’s a Spanish sidra culture that is basically derived from all wild ferment. I have first large batch of that going right now.”