Dutton Estate’s Cider: Review – CiderScene

In an effort not to report just from the Midwest, we thought we’d give some California love and review some cider we’ve never tried from Dutton Estates from Sonoma County. Dutton makes a wide variety of wines, but how does their hard cider stack up and is it wine-like? Let’s delve into their history and then we can talk tasting notes. Does that work for you?


Dutton Estate’s History

Dutton Ranch farms is 200 acres of CCOF-certified organic apples in addition to 1200 acres of vineyards in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Joe and Tracy Dutton grew up farming apples alongside vineyards, and founded Dutton Estate Winery after their marriage in 1995. Their combined multi-generational family history inspired this hard apple cider.

The apples are a blend of the beloved local heirloom Gravenstein variety with Golden Delicious which fashions the perfect cider: fruit-forward, like biting into fresh apples, with a touch of tartness and sweetness. The method they use in the cidermaking process is essentially the “cold”, and that is a bit of their secret. Each variety was crushed, pressed, and cold settled separately. They then take this cold settled product and pair the two together at the juice stage. This allows the flavors to integrate as the cider ferments. The cider is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks right until the moment it is canned.

Our Review of Dutton Estates Hard Cider

Coming from a wine region like Sonoma County outd expectations for quality were high. The can is presented in a slim can with an attractive design that both is reminiscent of the region and the products it makes. The ABV is slightly higher than a typical cider hitting at 7.4%. As mentioned these come in 12 oz cans but they are slim which seems a bit more elegant and on theme for the region. On the pour the cider spills out with a large amount of carbonation that sits in a head before dissipating into a drinkable experience.

The color is a light slightly golden flavor reminiscent of a pale ale beer. The small bubbles and higher carbonation also bring a sense of a prosecco with a lighter body and a perfum-ey smell. Apple skin and tartness hit your nose and linger with a herbaceous sweetness that is pleasant. When it came to tasting the flavors really popped due to the carbonation. It begins with a tart apple up front that turns into a buttery chardonnay flavor likely from malolactic fermentation. Tart crisp flavors melt away like butter for the finish leaving a bit of sweetness lingering on the tongue.

Overall, this is well rounded with notes of honey that gives a feel of wine country mixed with cider life!

How to Get Your Own

If you are in California or visit the winery you can get a 4 pack of 12 oz cans. If you want to get these shipped to your door nationwide you can get a pack of 12 120z cans to enjoy. Just visit their website at


Dutton Cider Co.’s Carbonated Hard Apple Cider

Today, I’m writing as I watch my cat Thistle wash her paw in the bright winter sunlight. It’s not warm, but I’m so happy to see the sun, even if I appreciate it from indoors. Many of my cider friends are traveling to (or already at) Virginia for CiderCon right now. I hope they’ll have safe trips and wonderful times at the conference; the program certainly looks amazing!

If you want to read more about this sold-out event, check out the American Cider Association’s website:

Just because I’m staying home this year, doesn’t mean I’m not still thinking about and loving cider. I’m trying another new-to-me cidery this week: Dutton Cider Co.. I’m pairing a Dutton Cider Co.’s Carbonated Hard Apple Cider with Penzey’s Smoky 4S and the start of Home Fires Season 2. I may not be having the most exciting winter on record, but I’ve got cozy all figured out. My thanks to Dutton Cider Co for sending me samples for review.

Here’s what I was able to find out about Sonoma County’s Dutton Cider.

THE MAKERS Dutton Ranch farms 200 acres of CCOF certified organic apples in addition to 1200 acres of vineyards in the Russian River Valley of Sonoma County. Joe and Tracy Dutton founded Dutton Estate Winery in 1995 and grew up farming apples alongside vineyards. Their combined multi-generational family history inspires the crafting of hard apple cider.

You can learn more about Dutton Estates from the website:

Here’s a bit more information from the cidery about the apples and cider making.


The blending of the beloved local heirloom Gravenstein variety with Golden Delicious fashions the perfect cider… fruit-forward, like biting into fresh apples, with a touch of tartness and sweetness.


Cold pressing, cold settling, cold fermenting, and cold storage ensure that crisp apple flavors are retained and acidity is smooth and bright.

This cider has an ABV of 7.4%

Appearance: brilliant, shining, cool toned gold, tiny bubbles

This is a very pretty cider; It seems a shame to hide it in a can! I poured mine into a rocks glass so I could appreciate its brilliant shine and almost cold-toned gold. I barely know how to describe the color; it’s mature yellow with a memory of green like wheat tips. I can see just a few tiny visible bubbles.

Aromas: golden raisins, overripe apples, minerals

Oh! This cider has some fabulous power in its aromas. The cider smells like overripe apples; the notes are concentrated like golden raisins. I also get a vibrant base of minerals.

Sweetness/Dryness: Sweet

This is a sweet to semi-sweet cider. The sweetness is balanced by both bitterness and acidity, but it’s definitely integral to the cider.

Flavors and drinking experiences: sweet, green apple, bitter, mineral finish

Dutton Cider Co.’s Carbonated Hard Apple Cider starts with a splash of bright magic acid that makes me think of green apples. The minerals are a bit sharp and the acid feels angular in my mouth. The cider isn’t funky, but it’s profile is different from most high acid and sweet ciders. Perhaps it’s that this cider is also tannic and bitter, but I’m not entirely sure yet.

What an interesting cider. I like how Dutton’s Cider has of Maple with a bit of bitterness that fills out the tasting experience. For a sweet cider I was surprised by the minerality of the finish. My co-tasters disagreed about the mouthfeel: hearty vs light. I can understand the divide. Tannic ciders and sweeter ciders can feel full but acidic cider with strong bubbles feel light. This cider is all of those things.

Overall, Dutton’s cider comes across as wonderfully interesting; It’s a clean polished cider that definitely has winemakers’ roots. It makes for a quite nice pairing with popcorn and excellent TV.