A BRIEF HISTORY OF CIDERMAKING IN AMERICA
Our first records of cider in America are from the earliest colonial times: The Mayflower itself carried a cider press, Virginia imported honeybees for the pollination of apple trees in 1622, and tenant farmers in Massachusetts Bay and Maryland were recorded as paying rent in apples in the 1630s. Before grafting of culinary cultivars became favored in the mid-18th century, the propagation of apple trees from seed produced an immense variety of fruits, with many of them being unsuitable for eating while very suitable for cidermaking!
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the profusion of wild apple varietals and of small farms across America gave rise to a diverse and ubiquitous cottage industry of small cidermakers. However, 20th century urbanization, immigration from countries with beverage cultures dominated by beer and wine, Prohibition, and the industrialization of farms to produce cash crops for export to the cities and oversees, all combined to all-but eliminate traditional cider making and the cider apple varietals from the United States.
Today, while the highly tannic and acidic apples traditionally used by great cider cultures such as France, England, and Spain are extremely scarce in America, cidermakers can impart tremendous depth and complexity into their products through natural fermentation with wild yeasts, long maturation in oak barrels, and by carefully blending the barrel-aged and fresh ciders into a remarkably balanced and subtle "Cru."
The resurgence of "hard" cider over the past decade has introduced many American drinkers to simple, sweet, and flavored, fermented apple juices. But, across the apple-growing states, farmers and artisanal producers are making cider from freshly pressed locally grown apples, fermented naturally and aged in oak barrels. Virtue Cider is one such producer: Our apples are grown by small family-owned farms on Michigan’s Cider Coast. We press them on our farm and ferment them in our underground, naturally cooled, cellar, then age them to maturity in oak wine barrels and bourbon casks. Our cidermaking team tastes every barrel finding the right balance and blend to produce our wide range of ciders: Michigan Brut, The Mitten, Lapinette, Percheron, and our single-farm Orchard Series.