Fall is cider time, and Sonoma County is hard-cider central, with nationally recognized brands like Golden State and Ace as well as small-scale producers like Tilted Shed and Horse & Plow. We give them all props for preserving long-standing traditions, and for helping to rescue our heritage orchards.
The Idealist—Tilted Shed Ciderworks, Inclinado Espumante: A twist on Basque cider, with a hint of effervescence and made with dry-farmed Gravensteins from a single orchard. Hazy and oakfermented, it has a wild flavor with a bit of funk. 7765 Bell Road, Windsor, tiltedshed.com
Orange You Cute—Ethic Ciders, Zest: Apples and citrus are perfect partners in this, well, zesty cider. It’s bone dry with flavors of tangerine and blood-orange alongside plenty of crisp apple and a zing of rosehips. Available online at ethicciders.com
Passion Play—Goat Rock Cider Company, Rosé Cider: The mix of passionfruit and apples gives this pink cider both a rose color and the flavors of rose wine. A Good Food Award winner and personal favorite. Available online at goatrockcider.com
Hoppy Times—Horse & Plow, Hops & Honey Cider: Though it sounds sweet, this dry sparkler is a mix of 10 varieties of apples, dry-hopped with whole hops with honey added as a fermenter. Hearty, earthy, and entirely unique. 1272 Gravenstein Highway N., Sebastopol, horseandplow.com
Agua Fresca-Inspired—Golden State Cider, Jamaica: A nod to the beloved sweet-tart hibiscus water found at many taquerias, this refreshing cider gets the pucker factor just right with the combo of dry cider and the tropical, floral notes of Jamaica. Plus, it’s adorably pink. 180 Morris St. at The Barlow, Sebastopol, drinkgoldenstate.com
The Original—ACE, BlackJack 21: The elder statesman of Sonoma ciders. This dry, celebratory cider features the Gravenstein apple, and is barrel-aged to mark the end of harvest season each year. 2064 Gravenstein Highway N., Sebastopol, acecider.com