Ingenuity is nothing new in the Pacific Northwest, home of Amazon, Nike, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and also the modern hopped cider movement. The Pacific Northwest was predicted to bring in nearly 96 percent of the United States’ total hop harvest for 2016 (numbers are yet to be released), with fruit-forward, citrusy varieties like Cascade, Mosaic and Galaxy topping the charts and moving into cideries as complementary adjuncts to the featured fruit.
When Vincent Sterne started Two Rivers Cider Co. in Sacramento, California, cider was hardly a gleam in the West Coast beverage industry’s eye. A longtime homebrewer and certified beer judge, Sterne began producing cider in a region better known for its affinity of wine and craft beer.
The final frontier: visuals for the state of Montana are often illustrated by snow-capped mountains, rushing rivers, lackadaisical bison and burly, bearded men rocking plaid attire at all times. But another image is also cropping up in Montana’s picturesque landscape: apples. With the Bitterroot Valley leading the charge on growing culinary and heirloom apples, Montana has eight registered apple orchards and five cideries, with two more on the way in 2017.
The Methow Valley (pronounced met-how) is burrowed in the foothills of the North Cascade mountain range, a popular recreational destination in north-central Washington State and one of the region’s main apple-growing regions. Many late-season varieties grow in these steep riverside orchards that see shorter growing days and cooler temperature. On the banks of the Methow River, outside the town of Twisp, is the family farm and cidery of Sixknot Cider.
Few American cider producers have received as many nods as Foggy Ridge in Dugspur, Virginia. The 12-year-old cidery might not be the oldest, biggest or boldest on the block, but it is one of the most respected, courtesy of orchardist and cidermaker Diane Flynt’s staunch dedication to apples and the craft of cider.
In pursuit of the ideal cider to appease the masses this Thanksgiving, give a semi-sweet cider a go. While a drier style might win over your Cabernet-staunch uncle or a sweeter cider could make Grandma sing, a semi-sweet or semi-dry will help bring the family together.
Simple and straightforward, landmark long-term producer Vermont Cider Co. will release its first “ultra-premium” line of ciders. You might know them better as the house of tenured producer Woodchuck; immigrant by way of Vancouver, Canada, Wyder’s Cider; and importers of both Magners Irish Cider and Blackthorn.