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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The hard cider market in Sonoma County

Wine is what Sonoma County is all about though the craft beer market is expanding rapidly, too. Alcoholic cider is a fast growing market in the U.S. (and in other places). Even MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch have jumped into the cider market.

from bevmo.com
The biggest and best-known hard cider maker in Sonoma County is ACE. They've been in the business for 15 years operating in what once was a large apple-producing area near the town of Sebastopol. The lesser known micro-cideries are Devoto, Murray's Cyder, Sonoma Cider, and Tilted Shed. Most seem to be back-to-the-land folks using organic fruit. None have tasting rooms, but they are available at local retail stores.

Cider's boom in popularity can be traced to it being a light, refreshing, slightly sweet drink--just what a lot of folks are looking for, especially during the warmth of summer. Cider started its rise in popularity in the UK several years ago. In the U.S. Portland, OR seems to be the epicenter.  You could say cider is piggybacking off the growth in craft beer. The hard cider industry expects rapid expansion to continue for the next several years and seems to be aiming towards a younger, affluent, mostly female crowd--a good place to attract advertising dollars. We'll see if some of these small micro-cider makers get swallowed up by larger companies as has happened in the wine biz.