In the last year hard cider has become more popular amongst beer and wine drinkers. Knowing that cider production dates back to colonial times it is fun to note that it is a beverage making a comeback. In recent years we have been making cider from a variety of different apples. Our winemaker Lee Lutes is proud to be part of an emerging cider making movement in Michigan as well as in the Midwest and Washington.
The ciders we make at Black Star Farms are made in a “winemaker’s” style. What we mean by this is that we aim to keep the fruit component very fresh and bright, and retard any oxidation or degradation of aromas and flavors. In other words, this cider should taste like fresh apples right off the tree, and not like apple beer (not to take anything away from that style, but it is not what our focus is).
In addition to this style our winemaking abilities allow us to do some production processes that make the cider deeper and more complex – things like lees aging and stirring as well as some oak aging programs. These processes are intended to make our ciders more interesting and dynamic to drink.
We use approximately 8 different apple varieties in these ciders including, Rhode Island Greenings, Winesaps, Spies, Red and Golden Delicious, Galas, Jonathon, and Crabs. These are mostly eating/cooking apple varieties, as local farmers have not created extensive plantings of “traditional” cider varieties, but this plays out well for the style we are striving to create.
Lee and two other prominent cider producers including Dan Young from Tandem Ciders and Mike Beck from Uncle John’s Winery will be representing the state of Michigan at the upcoming Cider Days Festival in Franklin County, Massachusetts. This event represents all things cider. Lee and the others will be participating in a series of educational events including round table discussions, specialty tastings, and research to find the next best apples for cider production.
This year all of the apples for our Hard Apple Cider were pressed at our Old Mission winery. We had a large lot of up to 75 bins. This kept the winery staff busy loading, pressing, pumping, and cleaning. The end result is sure to be a cider bubbling over with the fresh taste of Northern Michigan apples. For a glimpse at the process take a look at this short picture video.