Cider has always held an important place in the traditional and rural American kitchen. In colonial days, when clean water wasn’t always available, nearly every pantry was stocked with a few barrels of hard cider.
Today, the modern American craft-brewing movement that originated with beer and made its way to cider has provided a wealth of subtle and superlative craft ciders. With their bright but dry fruit notes these ciders pair exceptionally well with salty and smoky foods, making them a welcome addition to a barbecue.
Most top-shelf cider is still found largely at cider houses, spirits outlets, taprooms, or restaurants. Until quite recently nationally distributed ciders were abominable affairs, often made with apple concentrate imported from China and added sugar to boost the alcohol content during fermentation. Recently, however, higher-quality ciders are beginning to grace the shelves of the larger grocery outlets.
One example of top-flight west coast cider is Sebastopol’s Devoto Gardens. This should comes as no surprise as Sonoma Countyis is home to some of the world’s best apples.
Sebastopol is also an ideal location to dry-farm apples. The fog that rolls from the sea each night helps keep the apples crisp and allows them to ripen slowly. Just as with grapes, this cold-climate slow-ripening process is essential to developing subtlety and complexity in fermented fruit beverages.
During the last century untold acres of apple orchards were uprooted in this area in order to make way for the more lucrative grape harvest. Today, with the market for high-end ciders once again blooming, apple orchards in Sebastopol are again ripening this prized local resource.
Devoto’s Apple Sauced, is a single-varietal cider made with dry-farmed Gravenstein apples. Using champagne yeast, it is quick-fermented to preserve the zesty, tangy flavor of the fruit.