According to the most recent reports, the hard cider market, which has always been strong in England and other European countries, has been soaring over the last five years in the United States. Americans are finally going back to their roots and are enjoying a good hard cider. However, the drink of the founding fathers has changed dramatically over the last 300 years and what used to be murky and tart now enjoys the benefits of clean filtration; namely that it can handle residual sugar for balance.
When Joey and Marc Wölffer purchased Wölffer Estate at the beginning of this year, we all put our creative minds together as to what would be new and exciting to add to our existing wine offerings. The result is that we decided to make sparkling apple wine and go into the hard cider market.
As winemaker it was an easy leap for me and one I embraced with great enthusiasm. I grew up around hard cider! First we were serving the adults (“Go boy and fetch me another flask (Moschtkrügle) from the barrel in the basement”) – and we would of course take a big swig while going up the stairs each time. Later we were allowed to drink along, usually diluting it with soda to break the acidity and the alcohol. The first time I got tipsy certainly had to do with hard cider!
Unfortunately, the ciders I tasted over the years did nothing to bring me back from the then developed love for wine or good beer. But in the last few years there has been a huge comeback. A lot of apple orchards, wineries, and breweries have jumped on the bandwagon and are making cider. Governor Cuomo has also pushed for and passed new legislation making it much easier for cider to be produced and sold.
I knew I could make a hard cider that might just establish a new niche in the growing world of hard ciders. So we began making two ciders – both sparkling but one a dry white and the other a dry rosé. And of course we made them with local Halsey apples grown at White Cap Farms right here in the Hamptons. It was important to Joey, Marc and myself that we make a product that is worthy of the Wölffer Estate label. The result is made without artificial flavoring, no artificial food coloring and not from apple concentrate but from real fresh pressed apple juice. Last but not least we did not want to make it overly sweet but balanced and dry.
Both “Wölffer No. 139” varietals just made their debut here in August. The packaging and labels are unique and very bohemian in style which reflects the bohemian spirit that resides in many people during the Hampton summers. Sometimes doing something that is different from what you are accustomed to is good for the spirit and creates a festive time. The same goes for tasting it!