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Cider

311: Saving Bears by Making Cider

Ian McGregor who cofounded Farmstead Cider with Orion Bellorado holds the title of being both the first commercial cidery in the state of Wyoming and as of this episode published in 2022 remain the sole cidery in the state. These enterprising makers source their apples from residential in the area which have an abundance of crab apples that were planted for homeowners. They are currently planting an orchard, but most of the apples today are sourced from homeowners.

Saving Bears by Making Cider

Ian McGregor enjoying a cider post harvest

311: Saving Bears by Making Cider

Saving Nuisance Bears by Making Cider

A grant helped to fund their task of removing apples from as many local properties, as possible. The homeowners were happily to have the apples harvested which helped to reduce the number of bear/human conflicts in the area. Farmstead Cider ferments these high-altitude crab apples in a lovely assortment of cider, which by the way are fermented with the wild/ambient yeast.

Farmstead Apples

The apples are tart, tannic, sweet, and delicious, and they help our ciders stand out. We can credit the bears for their individuality. We now pick apples all over Jackson Hole, assisting in the conservation of animals and apple trees while producing small-batch hard ciders that represent our unique surroundings!

Bear 399

Local Bear 399 is a favored grizzly who most recently had 4 cubs and is one of the key bears who specifically encouraged the community to work with Farmstead Cider. What bear loving person wouldn’t want to save Bear 399!

Saving Bears by Making Cider

Grizzly “Bear 399” & her cubs pulling off the choice crab apples

Wild Ferments with no Sulfites

Farmstead ferments all the ciders with only the wild yeast. They found that even with the temps go way down the cider continues to bubble along.

  • Expect low acidity and high brix
  • Made with primarily bittersweet crab
  • The tannins are pronounced and well balanced

Saving Bears by Making Cider

Unique Apples Names and Terroir

Because most of the apple trees are unidentified the trees and their fruit are given unique names such as Highschool Purple, Rafter Jay or Red Canyon Nan. Since the trees are named after a specific tree in a specific area everyone knows where the harvest will be that day and it designs a specific terroir for that site.

311: Saving Bears by Making Cider

Contact for Farmstead Cider

Website: https://farmsteadwyo.com/

Order online: https://farmsteadwyo.com/bottle-shop

Address: 4125 Pub Place Suite #4 Jackson, WY 83001

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The ACA Welcomes 9 New Certified Pommeliers™

ACA Welcomes 9 New Certified Pommeliers™ to the Ranks of Cider Experts

The American Cider Association is pleased to announce that nine people passed the Certified Pommelier™ exam taken in February at CiderCon® 2022 in Richmond, Virginia. Newly Certified Pommeliers™ are: Matthew Ostrander of Ibantik Craft Beverages (UT), Dan Schreffler of Space Time Mead and Cider Works (PA), Chase Rochon of Craft Curbside (ME), Jamie Pratt of Liberty Ciderworks (WA), Nicole Wheeler of Treehorn Cider (GA), Aaron Homoya of Ash & Elm Cider Co (IN), orchardists Kyle Degener from Holy Beez Orchard, (KY) and Roland Poirier (NY), and cider aficionado Bridget Fields (DC). This is the largest cohort of successful exams on both cider theory and evaluation of the four exams offered to date.

Cider is a beautifully nuanced beverage with a diverse set of elements that are often misunderstood by food and beverage professionals. Certifications are used in the professional realm to set oneself apart as an individual with specialized knowledge, though cider is often covered in a cursory manner by most certification programs, if at all. This led the American Cider Association to establish its Certified Cider Professional (CCP) program to educate those on the front-line of cider sales.

The Certified Cider Professional program began with a Level 1 certification to help people obtain a fundamental understanding of cider. The Certified Pommelier™ certification was developed to move beyond a fundamental understanding and to encourage cider professionals to think critically while demonstrating a higher understanding of the elements of cider. Preparation for the exam demands months, if not years, of study and practice evaluating cider.

“The Certified Pommelier™ exam is designed to be rigorous. says Michelle McGrath, Executive Director of the ACA. “However, accessibility remains important. We’re rolling out more and more study aids in 2022, with a book on the horizon.”

The next Certified Pommelier™ exam is planned for June 20, 2022 in Seattle, Washington, and the ACA will announce one more test opportunity before CiderCon® 2023 in Chicago, Illinois.

The ACA asks that you contact Cider Education Outreach Manager Jennie Dorsey if you have questions about the program or are interested in taking either the Level 1 Certified Cider Professional test or the Certified Pommelier™ exam. You can also learn more at https://ciderassociation.org/certification.

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Cider

Along Came a Cider: Cider Review: Virtue Cider’s Baldwin

For once, I’m trying to be prepared and ahead of the game. When this goes live, I’ll hopefully be traveling with The Tall One. We need a bit of respite. But between this moment and that anticipated one there are snow storms and cross-country flights. I write in hope because I prefer it to other available options. Fingers crossed, cider friends!

Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on Virtue Cider’s Baldwin. For those who aren’t familiar with Virtue Cider. The company was founded in Michigan in 2011 by Greg Hall. The cidery offers many different cider styles, many of which are inspired by different cider making traditions from cider regions of the world or local Michigan ingredients.

This cider came to me as a sample of Virtue’s first Cider Society box. That’s their regular subscription or cider club. You can read more about Cider Society here: https://virtuecider.com/pages/cider-society

Virtue Ciders have appeared many times on this blog in the past. Here’s the full list. You can also find additional background information on Virtue in these earlier posts.

Spitz: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/10/cider-review-virtue-ciders-spitz.html

Pear: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/05/cider-review-virtue-ciders-pear-and.html

Michigan Apple: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/02/cider-review-1911-rose-and-virtue.html

Rose: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/02/cider-review-1911-rose-and-virtue.html

Brut: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2020/02/cider-review-citizen-ciders-tree-tapper.html

The Mitten Reserve: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/03/cider-review-whitewood-cider-cos-olivia.html

Percheron: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/10/cider-review-virtue-ciders-percheron.html

Ledbury: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/02/cider-review-roundup-virtue-slyboro.htm

The Mitten: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/05/cider-review-virtue-ciders-mitten-and.htm

Red Streak: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/06/trying-virtue-and-olivers-ciders-at.htm

You can find out more about any of these ciders and much more at Virtue’s website: https://www.virtuecider.com

Here’s the official description for the Baldwin, “Part of our Apple Fest Series which features a single apple varietal. The Baldwin apple is a large crimson red and coppery green apple that is crisp, juicy, and aromatic with a spicy sweet-tart flavor.” This cider’s ABV is 7.7%.

Appearance: bubbly, brilliant, medium straw

Virtue Cider’s Baldwin reminds me of many modern American ciders in its appearance. The cider is brilliant with visible bubbles and a medium color intensity. The hue reminds me of ripe straw.

Aromas: Cooked apples, apple skin, Pixi Stix

The Baldwin reminds me most of cooked apples when I let its aroma notes waft to me. I can get other inklings as well: green apple skins, Pixy Stix, and grapefruit.

Dryness/sweetness: Semi-dry

This cider is neither dominated by sweetness nor completely reliant on it. There is enough sweetness to keep things easy-going and approachable and not a bit too much. What sweetness I do detect is very appley and natural.

Flavors and drinking experience: tart, minerals, high acid, well-balanced

I appreciate how this tart and minerally cider feels so fresh on the palate. It really does feel so green apple tart to me; it’s somehow high acid without being overly austere or pointed. The Baldwin is a well-balanced crowd pleaser of a cider. I enjoy the strong bubbles and medium full mouthfeel.

I had this at a lovely quiet dinner of pescatarian okonomiyaki, dumpling soup, and cucumber salad. What a set of pairings! Each dish brought out a different element of the cider, and all were delicious. I would enthusiastically recommend exactly this to anyone who wants to explore such a well-balanced cider in all its visissitudes. And my eternal gratitude to my dear friends who cook so well and share their gifts.

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Cider

Q&A With Cider Belly’s Matthew Vendeville


From public health to the public house: How a young couple created Philadelphia’s newest cidery


If you haven’t yet heard of Philadelphia-based Cider Belly, you’re not alone. But given that the husband and wife–operated cidery has only been in existence for a mere six months, you’d be forgiven. Still, this relatively nascent cidery is moving quickly in the greater Philadelphia area and is poised to do big things.

Matthew Vendeville, along with his wife Kimberly, are the co-founders of Cider Belly. The two met at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health and still hold down full-time jobs outside the cidery. They’ve since moved to eastern Pennsylvania, in large part to build the Cidery Belly brand. We sat down with Matthew to better understand the couple’s journey as cider lovers who would ultimately become cidermakers.

Editor’s note: As part of a collaboration with Seattle-based Cidercraft, this interview is organized in two parts. One half is published below. The other half is posted at Cidercraft – simply click the link at the bottom of this page. And once you’ve finished this Q&A with the founders of Cider Belly, make sure to explore Cidercraft for more great information about cider and cidermakers.

Cidercraft/CiderScene: You and your wife were both cider drinkers and cider lovers. But that’s a far cry from actually making cider. What first brought you to the drink — and how did you start making it?

Matthew Vendeville: While we both were consumers of cider for a number of years, Kim and I gained a greater appreciation of craft cider while living in Pittsburgh and frequenting an awesome spot, Arsenal Cider House. I immersed myself in the cider culture by reading any material I could find, speaking with leaders in the cider community, and attending CiderCon. Research and passion led to producing the first batches of cider in our garage using carboys. After receiving positive feedback from friends and family, we realized we could turn this into something more.

While exploring the cider industry, I found that the cider community was different from others in that people were willing to share experience and knowledge. The more conversations I had, the more I felt that the cider world was filled with great people working together to produce an awesome product that brings people together. It simply felt right to pursue being part of the cider community.

To bring the business to life, we knew we’d have to be creative and willing to take chances in a new area that we were both unfamiliar with. After reaching out to multiple businesses around Philadelphia, Cardinal Hollow Winery owner, Chris Boyd, responded to our inquiry to lease a small footprint of space to begin production. Along with finding a space for production, we were lucky enough to find a great person willing to coach and mentor us in the early stages. We will forever be grateful for our relationship.

Cidercraft/CiderScene: As someone who has taken the leap from enjoying cider to making it on a professional level, can you tell us a cider-related story, or perhaps one related to your first cider experience?

MV: It’s interesting when you look back on your life and begin connecting the dots. In 2018, before we had begun ideating on a cider business, Kam and I traveled to Angry Orchard Headquarters in Walden, NY, before jumping on a flight to Ireland to scout potential wedding venues. We spent our days exploring castles in the countryside and our nights at pubs with Bulmers Irish Cider. Needless to say, we ended up getting married in Pittsburgh, down the road from Arsenal Cider, where we toasted to the future with local wine and cider in our glasses.

Cidercraft/CiderScene: OK, let’s get down to the good stuff. Where can people purchase and drink Cider Belly?

MV: Our current model is to partner with select Pennsylvania businesses to offer our products on draft or in cans to go. We are excited to continue our established partnerships and look forward to expanding our reach. For 2022, you will be able to periodically find us around the greater Philadelphia area serving drafts, flights and 4-packs to go at Maple Acres Farm in Plymouth Meeting, Pa., and on tap at Chestnut Hill Brewing Company in Chestnut Hill, Pa. .

We have partnered with Maple Acres Farm and Chestnut Hill Brewing because they deliver top notch products along with a great experience. If you’re looking for delicious, locally grown produce and fresh cut flowers, Maple Acres is the spot. If you want a pint of beer and pizza with a side of live music, Chestnut Hill Brewing is the perfect choice.

It makes us so happy to think about the collaboration we have with Maple Acres Farm and Chestnut Hill Brewing. We are forever indebted to them as providing us the opportunity to deliver our first batches of cider into the hands of those in our communities.

Cidercraft/CiderScene: Cider Belly is an unusual name. Where did you come up with it?

MV: We always wanted a name that would stand out and that people would remember. Cider Belly fit the build. After our wedding, we were lucky to travel to Italy where we indulged in all of the delicious Italian foods while enjoying great conversation and taking in the beautiful sights. We’d often joke that our bellies are full with whatever we had consumed earlier that day. When we came back home and began producing cider, it was a natural transition to say “Cider Belly.” For us, Cider Belly is an ode to an important memory as well as a celebration of all of our journeys with food and drink at the core.


Click here to continue the interview with Matthew Vendeville of Cider Belly on the pages of Cidercraft.

Find out where you can find Cider Belly by following them on Facebook and Instagram @ciderbellyhardcider.

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Cider

7 Hopped Ciders You Can’t Be Bitter About

When it comes to hops, more often than not, you’ll find them in beer. Hops are small, green seed cones that are introduced during the brewing process to provide flavor, create balance through bittering, and to add stability to the brew. But hops aren’t just reserved for beer.

When hops are introduced to cider, it can truly kick the drink up a notch. Different types of hops provide different characteristics, with some introducing citrus flavors, while others introducing floral or even pineapple notes. And for those looking for a hard cider that’s a bit more akin to beer, or for those interested in something a bit different, hopped ciders are the ideal answer.

Castle Hill Cider | Dry Hopped Hard Cider | Keswick, Va. | 6% ABV

A blend of estate-grown fruit meets three types of hops in this cider. Cascade, Citra and Zappa hops bring notes of citrus and tropical fruit to the mix, creating a semi-sweet cider for easy sipping on warm spring days.

Pinball Cider | Hopped Pink Lady | Seattle, Wash. | 7% Abv

Pink Lady apples make for a bright, fresh cider — and hops make it that much more complex. Citra and Amarillo hops are added to this cider to bring forward a floral nose thanks to the hop bouquet, not to mention a hint of citrus. It’s exceptionally dry with just a touch of haze, making it perfect for warm-weather sipping.

Citizen Cider | The Lake Hopper | Burlington, Vt. | 6.2% ABV

This offering from Citizen Cider starts with freshly pressed apples. Local Cascade hops are then introduced as a celebration of local farmers and landscapes. It’s crisp and dry, with notes of grapefruit and thyme for a refreshing sip.

Union Hill Cider Co. | Hopped & Hazy | East Wenatchee, Wash. | 7.8% ABV

This cider combines Snowdrift Crabapples, Muscadet de Lens and Rave — a Honeycrisp and MonArk hybrid — to create a unique blend. Mosaic and Liberty hops are added in to bring notes of citrus into the mix with a hint of bitterness on the finish.

Stormalong | Light of the Sun | Sherborn, Mass. | 6.5%

Looking for a punch of tropical fruit? This cider features Citra and Ekuanot hops for a hit of citrus. Guava is added to round out the flavor, creating a wildly refreshing cider just on the edge of dry and semi-dry.

Swift Cider | Pineapple Hop | Portland, Ore. | 6.2% ABV

Fresh-pressed apples are combined with pineapple juice, along with Centennial, Chinook and Ekuanot hops, to make this zippy cider. It’s semi-dry with juicy notes of pineapple, citrus and pine for light, aromatic drink.

Chain Yard Cider | Hopped Up | Halifax, Nova Scotia | 6% ABV

This dry cider is taken to the next level with the addition of Cascade and Centennial hops. Floral aromas and notes of citrus create a complex, yet easy drinking, cider.

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Along Came a Cider: Cider Review: Bent Ladder Cider’s Original

Yesterday I saw my first outdoor blooms of the season. What season, one might reasonably ask? It’s still Winter here, but I saw snowdrops. Yesterday the sun was powerful enough to melt feet of ice and tempt many people outdoors. I’m grateful for that little preview of Spring. Today, it’s a gray world of rain and mist, but I remember the look of a blue sky. Today’s cider is one that reminds me of Summer. A friend of mine sought out a selection of Bent Ladder Cider for me, and that makes me value it all the more. Bent Laddery Ciders and Wines come to us from Doylestown, Ohio. The company was founded in 2015. Here’s how the website describes the process,

Each cider is made from a selection of our estate-grown apples which we crush, ferment, age and keg in-house. Even if you have never tried a hard cider before, our wide selection ensures that you will be able to find something that you love.

I recommend learning about Bent Ladder Ciders and Wines on the company’s homepage here: https://bentladder.com/ As this is the cidery’s first appearance on the blog, I wanted to start with The Original. Here’s how the Original is described.

A blend of apples including Northern Spy, Jonathan and Winesap. Aromas of green apple and ripe pear. Fruit forward flavors of ripe apple, blossoms and nectar. Well balanced and easy drinking with a clean mellow finish.

Medium Sweet

6.5% ABV

Appearance: brilliant, lots of bubbles, medium intensity warm straw

This cider has a classic look with medium intensity warm straw color. I see many bubbles in the glass. As the image reveals, Bent Ladder’s Original is brilliant in terms of clarity. Aromas: baked apple muffins, spices, bready, ripe apple The Original reminds me of a brunchy weekend breakfast in the best of all possible ways. It smells like a fresh apple danish with notes of baking spice, clean yeastiness, powdered sugar, and ripe apples. There’s also just a hint sweet orange in the mix. I am so very reminded of baked goods! The aroma is clean and enticing. Sweetness/Dryness: Semi-sweet This cider strikes me exactly as the cidery it describes, semi-sweet. The sweetness in The Original is beautifully integrated in the whole experience, and it’s a super approachable level of sweetness in a cider. Flavors and drinking experience: bubbly, medium acid, honey, ripe apple So much of what I noticed in the aroma comes through in this cider’s flavors as well. It does remind me of a sweet apple-y dessert. The Original brings lots of bubbles to my glass, and I’m grateful. It has medium acidity, a beautifully honeyed flavor, and a generous share of fresh apple. The whole experience tastes jammy to me. Its a sunny, summertime cider in my book. I enjoyed this with a hearty veggie soup and homemade bread, but I’d love to see this with a quiche and muffins.



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Stormalong Cider Launches New Unfiltered Cider

Stormalong Cider, a Massachusetts-based cidery, today announced the introduction of Stormalong Unfilteredthe newest addition to Stormalong’s core line up of hard ciders that are available year-round.

Featuring a blend of 100% high-quality, fresh pressed, locally sourced apples from orchards across New England, this unfiltered hard cider is reminiscent of farmstand cider pressed and sold at harvest. It’s crisp, refreshing, with a savory balance of tart and sweet.

“The ritual of apple picking and drinking freshly pressed apple cider in the fall is a rite of passage for New Englanders.” It’s one of the best things about living here,” said Shannon Edgar, founder of Stormalong Cider. “Our Unfiltered hard cider is made with a unique blend of whole apples sourced locally from these amazing orchards. Additionally, this cider is finished without filtration, which provides a juicier, fresh apple mouthfeel, reminiscent of farmstand ciders, but with a kick. We’ve spent several years perfecting the process of making our Unfiltered cider which is actually quite complex. It’s all made with 100% fresh local juice, so it’s super simple ingredient wise, but you have to get the process right. Some of our competitors use apple concentrate and other adjuncts like malic acid, sugar, and flavorings to make the process easier and cheaper. We don’t ever add anything except apples.”

Like all of Stormalong’s offerings, Unfiltered It is naturally gluten-free and made with carefully sourced local apples which are freshly pressed and fermented with care. No added sugars, concentrates, water, artificial ingredients, natural flavors or essences. 100% goodness.

Stormalong Unfiltered will be available on draft and in 16 oz. 4-packs at select bars, restaurants and retail locations throughout Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Los Angeles County starting this month. Consumers can also order online for direct-to-consumer delivery or visit Stormalong’s Store Locator to find where Unfiltered is available.

About Stormalong Cider

Stormalong Cider, founded in 2014, is a Massachusetts-based craft cider company producing a wide range of ciders focused on apple quality and character. Using a blend of culinary and rare heirloom varieties, Stormalong ferments and ages its ciders with traditional and modern techniques showing the unique characteristics of these diverse apples. Fascinated and inspired by America’s robust hard cider lineage, Stormalong aims to showcase the diversity, flavor and quality of cider made with the right apples. For more information visit www.stormalong.com or follow Stormalong on Instagram @stormalongcider.

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Cider

2Towns Cider Launches Craftwell RTD Cocktails

The Oregon-based team behind 2 Towns Ciderhouse today announced Craftwell Cocktails, a line of premium cocktails made with real fruit for exceptional taste and an authentic cocktail experience for any occasion. Prioritizing taste above all else, the ready-to-drink Craftwell cocktails rely on the expertise developed over a dozen years using real fruit to make delicious cider. They are crafted in the Pacific Northwest with carefully selected ingredients that lead to a refreshing and delicious taste.

With four distinct, foundational flavors blended from premium ingredients – Pineapple Margarita, Grapefruit Paloma, Blueberry Cosmo, and Strawberry Margarita – Craftwell Cocktails looks to deliver a modernized cocktail experience. Packaged in ready-to-drink cans that are easily portable, Craftwell will allow consumers to create a unique cocktail moment just about anywhere. From the bonfire social to a day of outdoor adventure to date night, Craftwell allows consumers to live life with flavor while on the go. Each is 10.5 percent ABV and will be available in 12oz ounce cans at retail stores, bars, and restaurants beginning March 1 in Oregon and Washington.

“When we started 2 Towns Ciderhouse a dozen years ago, we used the ingenuity that’s unique to the Pacific Northwest, and people loved it,” said Nels Jewell-Larsen, Co-owner. “We’re bringing the same spirit to Craftwell, inspired by our consumers’ spirit of adventure, to craft great-tasting cocktails that are ready to drink.”

The Pineapple Margarita uses Costa Rica Gold pineapple, Key lime juice, and agave nectar, giving it a ripe pineapple forward taste that is balanced with a kick of lime, and sweetened by the agave. Our Grapefruit Paloma blends Rio Grande Ruby Red grapefruit, California Meyer lemon, and agave nectar to produce a fresh-squeezed, citrus flavor with a quenching and mild bitterness, balanced by agave sweetness. Crafted with Pacific Northwest blueberries and California lemons, the Blueberry Cosmo tastes rich, ripe, and fruity, with a pronounced blueberry forward taste and a lemon-tang finish. The Strawberry Margarita relies on strawberry juice, Mexican Key lime juice, and agave nectar to reveal a distinctly West Coast margarita experience, with big, ripe strawberry notes and blends sweet with tangy.

“We take our cocktails seriously,” said Nels. “Ourselves? Not so much. Craftwell knows that cocktails are supposed to be about fun, and we bring an irreverence to our craft that helps our consumers enjoy their time with friends while feeling good about what they’re drinking.”

About Craftwell

Embodying the spirit of the Pacific Northwest, Craftwell ready-to-drink cocktails are crafted with the same care and expertise that made the 2 Towns Ciderhouse team leaders in using real fruit to create award-winning ciders. Craftwell encourages consumers to live life with flavor and to create their own cocktail moments with easily portable canned deliciousness. Real, fresh fruit produces real, fresh flavors: Pineapple Margarita, Grapefruit Paloma, Blueberry Cosmo, and Strawberry Margarita. For more information please visit craftwellcocktails.com.

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Wickson Crab – The Little Apple with a Big Profile

Apple Tales with Darlene Hayes

The highway north from San Francisco winds its way through car dealerships and commercial districts, eventually opening up to vineyards, narrowing from eight lanes to two as it passes out of farmed land and into the shadow of giant redwoods. Known chiefly today as the southernmost end of the largest cannabis growing region in the United States, Humboldt County, Calif., was also once the home of one of America’s most innovative plant breeders, Albert Etter, creator of the little powerhouse apple, Wickson Crab .

Albert Felix Etter (1872-1950) was one of 10 surviving children born to Swiss immigrant Benjamin Etter and his German-born wife Wilhemina (née Kern). Young Etter showed an interest in plants from an early age, beginning his first breeding experiments at age 7 and creating a new line of dahlias by age 12. In his mid-teens he abandoned formal schooling, inspired by biologist/geologist Louis Agassiz (1807) -1873) to learn from nature instead of books.

In the 1890s, Etter and several of his brothers staked a homestead claim to 800 acres in California’s Upper Mattole Valley wilderness, at least two days away from pretty much everything. It was densely forested, so the first order of business was clearing the land and setting up a sawmill to make their own lumber for building homes and barns. They had to hand-build a road to the nearest small town, Briceland. To improve and sweeten the soil they brought in goats, though the expert at the University of California, Berkeley, had lime suggested amendments were required and was more than a little dismissive when Etter rejected the idea.

Etter’s breeding experiments expanded. He had early success with strawberries, crossing established varieties with wild beach strawberries. Though common today, introducing wild plant genes into domesticated varieties was a radical notion during Etter’s time. The prevailing wisdom was that the best new cultivars came from crossing the best current ones, continuing the march to perfection not slipping backward into uncultivated savagery. Etter, however, had not come up through the formal university system and the narrowing of the mind that can come with it. He was willing to try unconventional approaches especially after they proved successful.

It is this mindset that he took with him into the breeding of new apples. He had particular goals in mind including scab resistance, fine juicy/crunchy flesh, and an apple that would can well. He was also looking for the next great variety for making “champagne” cider, according to the late Etter champion Ram Fishman. Etter had 450 trees in the ground by 1900, eventually testing at least 600 different cultivars. He wanted to know which would perform well there and be useful breeding stock, using those that didn’t make the cut as scaffolds for grafting later on. He had a host of well known varieties, but the ones that excited him most were the more obscure — Manx Codlin, Ananas Reinette and Northfield, for example.

It is anyone’s guess when the seed that became Wickson Crab was first planted. Though he frequently described his new creations in the many articles he wrote about his work, Etter didn’t name them in those articles, and what breeding notes he may have had disappeared in the 1990s.

The first written record of Wickson is a plant patent filed in June 1944 where Etter stated that it was a cross between “Newtown and Spitzenberg Crab.” Many have assumed that what was meant was a cross between the well known apples Newtown Pippin and Esopus Spitzenberg. Recent DNA analysis (unpublished) in fact shows that Wickson is not only unrelated to either of these apples, but does not, in fact, have a close genetic relationship to any apple sequenced to date. This is not a complete surprise given Etter’s known open-mindedness in selecting breeding material, but it does raise some interesting questions. What did Etter mean by “Newtown”? Did he really use Spitzenberg Crab, an obscure variety that seems to have principally been planted in the late 19th century Wisconsin?

It should be said that the other possibility is that what Etter wrote in his patent was simply wrong. Even in well-funded large breeding programs mistakes can be made or lost records. Etter was working alone on a shoestring budget more or less in the middle of nowhere, and may well have been more focused on the end results than on how he got there. He says as much in a 1922 article on apple breeding written for the Pacific Rural Press. “Truly, if I had more time to look after this work, I could keep better records, but as it is, it is more important to the great majority that they get these improved kinds than it is as to where or how they came into being.”

The mystery of Wickson’s parentage notwithstanding, it is a remarkable little apple that from its obscure beginnings has found its way into the hearts of cidermakers across the country. Etter’s patent describes it as “brilliant red, oblong in shape, and sugary sweet, highly flavored, and juicy.” He was absolutely right, though he could have also added bright with acid to balance all of that sugar. Its small size, less than two inches across, has kept it from being of much interest to large-scale growers. But if the many examples I tasted are any indication, Wickson is following in the footsteps of the famous Harrison and well on its way to becoming the next great American cider apple.

dry; honey, almonds, lemon juice, dried apples, almonds, toasted nuts, candied orange peel; sparkling
2014 | 7.5% ABV

dry; lemon curd banana melon lemon zest green apple skin fresh thyme white flowers apricot quince; sparkling
2018 | 6.9% ABV

dry; Meyer lemon juice, honey, baked apple, toasted almond, pear skin, anise; sparkling
2019 | 8% ABV

dry; lime zest, lemon zest, apple skin, green plum, salt, VA; sparkling
Undated | 7% ABV

dry; lemon curd, just ripe apricot, ripe apple, ripe pear, lemongrass; sparkling
Undated | 7.7% ABV

Dry, Meyer lemon curd, spruce tips, apricot, pear skin; sparkling
Undated | 8% ABV

dry; ripe cantaloupe, lemon juice, lemon zest, lemon curd, apricot, ripe apple, pineapple, mango, white flowers; sparkling
2017 | 9.5% ABV

dry; lemon, pear skin, grapefruit, dried twigs, VA; sparkling
2018 | 9% ABV

dry; Meyer lemon, lemon pith, plum skin, apricot, VA; sparkling
2019 | 9% ABV

dry; lemon peel and pith, lemon blossom, apricot, dried thyme, grapefruit peel; sparkling
2019 | 9.5% ABV

dry; rose, lemon curd, apricot, grapefruit, green herbs, pear, honeydew melon; sparkling
2020 | 9.1% ABV

dry; lemon peel, lemon curd, grapefruit peel and pith, fennel, just ripe apricot, green pear; sparkling
2021 | 9.5% ABV

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Cider

Hard Cider Gift Basket | CiderScene

For cider lovers, there is no better present for any occasion that a hard cider gift basket. Often, these baskets have hard cider, meat snacks, cheeses, and other apple-based products. The most difficult part of actually getting some this type of gift is finding the right option. We have compiled the top ten best hard cider gift baskets for cider fans on the market today.

hard cider gift basket

New York State is on the map for growing more apple varieties and now producing world-class hard ciders. Packed into this picnic hamper is a curated selection of NYS ciders and complimentary snacks.

This gift highlights a generous selection of the best ciders from our state, from Cooperstown (Ommegang), Orange County (Doc’s), the Hudson Valley (Graft) and the Hamptons (Wolffer.) with other fruits, to variants on rosé, the ultimate in summer sips.

We’ve also included salty snacks from small producers including Bazzini pistachios, Martin’s pretzels and Brooklyn Brittle savory shortbread and packed it all in a vintage-inspired wood picnic basket. Cheers to your cold, bubbly armchair tour of New York.

Price: $99
Notes: This box offers a nice variety of cider options for fans of dry and sweet ciders.

The Cider Gold Gift Box contains a bottle of Lake Chelan Winery’s famous Hard Apple Cider. You can choose sparkling cider, which has a little fizz, or regular cider, which does not. Pair either cider with Dan the Sausageman Summer Sausage and our popular Walla Walla Sweet Mustard and you’ve got the makings of a picnic to remember!

Make your gift even more special by adding The Growler cutting board! Just select it as an option on the right, and we’ll include it in the Cider Gold Gift Box.

Price: $60
Notes: Not readily available all the time, but they have a phone number to call to order!


Equipped with a four-pack of Citizen’s hard cider and the ideal snacks to pair, you are sure to please all of your cider-loving friends and family. Bring this crate along for a picnic in the park, or open up as an après ski treat, it is perfect for an afternoon spent sipping and snacking!

Price: $94
Notes: They offer vegetarian and gluten-free options for those in need!


Country goodness meets orchard freshness in this bountiful basket filled with seasonal sweets, refreshing sips and savory treats! This wonderful wooden apple cider crate makes a great decorative addition to their fall and holiday decor. This gift is stunning!

Truly a gift they will remember for a long time to come, this adorable apple themed gift basket is loaded with apple themed gourmet goodies and paired with nuts and cheeses that compliment each other surprisingly well. Flavor like this carefully arranged into a country style wooden box makes a beautiful presentation for any occasion.

Price: varies, but around $100
Notes: Not sure there will always be a ton of inventory, but it is a good option for apple lovers of all sorts.


Time to taste! A little local hard apple cider along with cider themed treats. Includes a tasting journal so they can keep track of their favorite Oregon made ciders. Includes:

  • 3-2 Towns Ciderhouse Cider Cans in a combo of available varieties like Pineapple, Marionberry or other seasonal.
  • Cranberry Sweets Hard Apple Cider Fruit de’ Pate’ candies. (Coos Bay)
  • 33 Mugs of Cider Tasting Journal (Portland)
  • Sister’s Fruit NW Fruit Mix of dried cherries, blueberries, apples, strawberries and cranberries (Cornelius)
  • Oregon Berries Fruit de’ Pate’ Blackberry and Raspberry Candies (Coos Bay)

Price: $56
Notes: A great way to taste the region and get a taste of the PNW if you can’t make it out often. They offer a premium version, too!


Organic USDA certified juicy ripe pears, fresh and crisp red apples and sweet oranges arrive in this handmade basket. Organic sparkling apple cider, chocolate caramel truffles, roasted salted cashews, roasted salted almonds, creamy jack cheese spread and multigrain crackers are packed into this basket.

Price: $136
Notes: Contains Sonoma sparkling cider, so, again, good for the pregnant women and those not looking for a hard beverage.


24″ tall and impressive! Our Bouquet of Beer comes with 6 Angry Orchard Rose Ciders and plenty of snacks to enjoy. We’ll finish this gift with a gorgeous bow along with your message on a greeting card. Printed ribbon is available for an additional fee.

Price: $119
Notes: This is one of the cutest presentations of all the gift baskets we found online!


Refreshing and delicious Sheffield Sparkling Cherry Apple Cider, produced in Washington’s Columbia Basin from the third generation Sheffield family’s apple orchards pairs perfectly with Pacific Northwest Smoked Salmon, Brie Cheese Spread, Elki Crackers, Gourmet Almonds, Chocolate Truffles, White Chocolate Dipped Pretzels and Brown & Haley’s Almond Roca, arranged in an elegant red metal tin. Festive and delicious!

Price: $74.95
Notes: This is a non-alcoholic cider, so it is perfect for those that do not drink and pregnant women! We did include this cider is our sparkling cider article.


This box has an assortment of North Country Hard Cider, cheese, crackers, parmesan crisps, and apples. If you know a hard cider lover you know there’s only one way to get to their heart: through their stomach. So we’ve collected some of their favorite snacks and brought them together with three different North Country Hard cider flavors in this Hard Cider Care Package!

Price: $89.99
Notes: Irresistible New England themed treats tastefully paired with the flavors of the three hard ciders.


Good4You presents the Green Apple Cider Garden Gift Basket, a gift that is all about the green! We love the color green and we want you to as well, which is why we packed some of our favorite green items into this basket, such as juicy green apples with sweet cinnamon sticks, and delicious Somersby Apple Ciders.

Price: $49.99
Notes: Upgradeable to include other elements in the basket


Have other hard cider gift baskets we didn’t add to our list? Send us an email at [email protected] Cheers!