Wine and cider may be separate and distinct beverages, but they share some vital characteristics: Both are the results of fermentation and made from fruit harvested just once a year. Both can be seriously complex in flavor, yet totally food-friendly.
And, lately, a growing number of American producers are blurring their boundaries even further by combining the two categories.
Often called apple-grape wines, wine-cider hybrids or vinous ciders, these unique and lively creations are worth exploring. Bottlings are sprouting up in places where apples and grapes can grow equally well, like the Northeast, California and the Pacific Northwest. Here’s a sampling from those regions.
Aaron Burr Appinette
Andy Brennan and his wife, Polly Giragosian, use a mix of orchard-grown and foraged apples from the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains to craft ciders full of funkiness and tannin. This blend is a marriage of their cider and local hybrid Traminette grapes.
Art & Science Symbiosis
Kim Hamblin and Dan Rinke, who is also the winegrower at Johan Vineyards in Rickreall, Oregon, make cider, perry and a few wines on their home farm. This fragrant 50-50 blend combines foraged Yamhill County apples and Grüner Veltliner grapes, and it undergoes wild fermentation before aging for 10 months in Acacia and French oak.
Clementine Carter Mourvedrè Cider
Los Alamos, CA
“Cider is such a transparent medium,” says Sonja Magdevski, proprietor/winemaker at Casa Dumetz Wines. “It readily absorbs anything you add to it and lightens the perspective.” She creates an assortment of wine-cider hybrids from local grapes like Grenache, Sémillon, Grüner Veltliner and more. This bottling is made with destemmed whole-berry Mourvèdre, which is co-fermented with equal parts organic apple juice.
Fable Farm Fermentory Vinous Venus
Brothers Christopher and Jon Piana use a range of local fruits, herbs, saps and honey to craft a roster of fermented creations that includes several wine-cider hybrids. This dry, rosé-hued bottling is made by steeping leftover grape skins in aged cider. “Blending is a sort of alchemy and it’s fun to see how the apple and grape…dance together,” says Christopher.