At the Gravenstein Apple Fair, happening on August 12 – 13, 2023 in Sebastopol, to no one’s surprise, our namesake apples are served in every delicious way imaginable – fried in fritters, perfect in pies and, of course, tasty from the tree.
But wait, there’s more! Let us not forget how wonderful the juice of our favorite fruit is. Kids LOVE apple juice. Adults love apple juice too – particularly when it comes in the form of cider. We’re in the midst of a cider renaissance and nowhere will you find more tasty, craft cider options than at the Gravenstein Apple Fair.
We’ll let local cider expert Dana Glei fill you in on the fun details of Sonoma County cider-craft.
Spitters Make Great Cider
That’s right, “spitters” make great cider! Artisan cider makers are always on the lookout for spitters.
Craft cider makers often incorporate tannic apples that are suited only for cider. Growers refer to those apples as “spitters” because that’s what you will be doing if you try to eat them.
They are not easy to find because few people grow them. However, even a small percentage of tannic cider apples can add a lot of body to the cider. They also enhance the cider’s ability to age well.
Names such as Tremlett’s Bitter and Geneva Bitter tell you that those apples are NOT intended to be eaten. You’ve probably never heard of the cider apples that are among the most prized by cider makers such as Kingston Black (the unicorn of cider apples), Golden Russet* (the champagne of cider apples), Dabinett (the Godfather of cider apples), Porter’s Perfection, and Yarlington Mill. You will NEVER find them in any grocery store.
Craft Cider is Different
There is another key distinction between craft cider and mass-produced cider. Craft cider is generally made from local, fresh-pressed apples. In contrast, many grocery store ciders are made using apple concentrate, often shipped in from China, and sometimes blended with sugar water.
Craft cider also takes a long time to make. It is generally fermented over a period of many months. Some artisan ciders are aged for years. A mass-produced cider can be made and sold in a matter of weeks.
Craft Cider Selection at the Fair
Organized by home cider makers known as the GRAVS (Gold Ridge Apple Vintners’ Society), the cider tent will be staffed by local expert volunteers who can give fairgoers the lowdown on the process of making ciders from Sonoma County apples, as well as flavor and scent nuances that are unique to these handcrafted libations.
Visitors can choose from the following selection of craft cider options: Ace Cider, AppleGarden Farm, Bardos Cider, Belden Barns, Coturri Winery, Dutton Estate Winery, Ethic Cider, Eye Cyder, Golden State Cider, Gowan’s Heirloom Cider, Horse & Plow, Humboldt Cider Co., North American Press, Tilted Shed Ciderworks, Old World Winery, Twin Hills Cider/Reichwage Winery
Cider Tasting at the VIP Experience
For the Fair’s VIP visitors, cider will be served at the VIP Bar including cider from Dutton Estate and Golden State. Other cider makers (Bardos Cider, Ethic Cider, Eye Cyder, Gowan’s Heirloom Cider, North American Press, and Tilted Shed Ciderworks) will be offering sips. VIP fairgoers will be able to chat with the cider makers and enjoy cider and food pairings as part of their VIP experience. VIP tickets sold out last year so be sure to get your tickets online at gravensteinapplefair.com/highlight/vip if you want to join the fun!
Which Cider is Right For You?
Cider Experts can Help
Many of the ciders are on the dry side, while others have more residual sugar. If you are new to cider, we will help you figure out which cider might be to your liking: Sweet? Dry? Funky? Clean? Wild-ferment? Fruit-forward? No added sulfites? Barrel-aged? Bottle-conditioned? Pét-Nat? Organic apples? Co-ferment with CA wild grapes, pears, and/or quince? We have it all.
Many of the people serving at the Craft Cider Tent make cider themselves. We have tasted a lot of cider!
You will be shocked at how much variation there is even among ciders made from the same apples. At the Craft Cider Tent, we have the perfect cider for everyone. Come find out at the Gravenstein Apple Fair on August 12 – 13, 2023.
* NOTE: If you come across Golden Russet apples at a Farmer’s Market or co-op, buy them! That apple is not a spitter. It will wow you. Because it is a russeted apple (i.e., rough, leathery skin—think Russet potato), you may view it as an “ugly apple.” Yet, the skin actually enhances the taste with a nutty flavor. This apple is also a sugar bomb. It has more sugar than almost any apple you will ever eat, although some acidity helps offset the sugar so that it doesn’t taste super sweet. It just tastes GOOD! Ciders made from Golden Russet can have naturally occurring alcohol levels higher than 10%. Most apples will yield only 6-7% ABV.