At Cellar Door Cider in Chico, Bryan Shaw has labored three years, applying his winemaking studies and experience to cidermaking. Cider, after all, is also fruit wine. Apples have less sugar than grapes, less food for yeast to convert to alcohol, so ciders have lower alcohol content. Cellar Door Ciders run in the 8% range.
CIDERMAKING AT CELLAR DOOR CIDER
Shaw crushes all fresh fruit, no concentrates or fruit stored for months in cold storage. When he blends other fruits into his ciders, he sources them locally. Local blueberries come from Sierra Cascade Blueberries in Forest Ranch, pomegranates from Hillside Poms in Capay, and local pears from a friend’s tree in Durham. All these fruits, like the apples, he also crushes fresh. Once his ciders have finished fermenting, Shaw ages them for four to six months in slightly used wine barrels. Aging develops flavor nuances in cider and helps concentrate flavors, just as in wine.
“There’s a little bit of alchemy involved” in the process, believes Shaw. It’s easy to imagine Shaw the alchemist bent over his workbench. For Cellar Door Cider’s 100% apple ciders, he’s deciding which apple varietals to blend and which to ferment by themselves. For a cider he calls The Hummingbird, he’s calculating just how much wildflower honey from local Wofchuck Honey Company to add. For The Grasshopper, a hopped cider, he’s tasting from tiny bottles of hop oil extract, choosing and blending seven different ones to mix with apples. The Grasshopper recently was named Gold Medal winner in the “hopped cider” category of the 2019 U.S. Open Cider Competition.
Aging in barrels to be bottled in May are more ciders from fruit harvested in 2019. There are new single variety and blended 100% apple ciders. There are fruit blends: a blueberry apple cider and a pomegranate apple, both made by fermenting the blueberries and pomegranates separately, and then blending the resulting fruit wines with apple cider to pleasing proportions. There’s also a blend of D’Anjou pears, several varieties of apple, and red wine grape skins.
No need to wait until these are bottled and available in May. You can taste what’s available now and return in May. Cellar Door Cider’s tasting room is open every Saturday from 2 to 6pm.
This article is sponsored by Cellar Door Cider,
one of the advertisers who make Edible Shasta-Butte possible.