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Cider Week Highlights Rapid Growth Of Vermont's Hard Cideries

Over the past decade, more than a dozen hard cideries have popped up in Vermont.

Vermont's first-ever Cider Week is underway. The statewide series of events highlights a growing craft hard cider industry in Vermont.

A few years ago, Vermont had only a handful of hard cider makers.  Now, the state is home to 15 producers that make up the Vermont Cider Makers Association. Along with Vermont's robust craft beer offerings, ciders are popular among localvores.

Nate Formalarie, communications manager for Woodchuck Hard Cider, says cider attracts wine drinkers and spirits lovers, too.

"You throw in a shot of cinnamon whiskey, or any other kind of cocktail can be made with it," said Formalarie. "So it's versatile and it's drawing in a wide range of folks." He also points out that cider is naturally gluten-free, making it a popular choice for those with that particular dietary restriction.

In terms of sourcing apples, Formalarie says most Vermont-grown apples are what he calls "table fruits," which end up in places like grocery stores.

"There is a point where we need to figure out a little bit of a new model to help grow more apples in Vermont for cider production." -Nate Formalarie, Woodchuck Hard Cider

He estimates those apples account for around 85 percent of Vermont's orchard fruit. The remaining 15 percent supplies the process market. In addition to cider, that includes various products like applesauce and apple slices for school lunches.

"There is a point where we need to figure out a little bit of a new model to help grow more apples in Vermont for cider production," said Formalarie. He adds that doing so will help cider makers use fewer out-of-state apples. "Certainly with all these new cideries coming online, the demand is growing."

Those newer cider makers include Shacksbury and Citizen Cider. Vermont wineries like Boyden Valley and Grand View Winery are also producing ciders.

There will be plenty of chances to sample their offerings this week. Events include a Vermont Cider Tap Takeover at the Farmhouse Tap & Grill in Burlington on Nov. 19, and a closing party at Arts Riot in Burlington on Nov. 22.  Find a full list of events here.

Annie Russell was VPR's Deputy News Director. She came to VPR from NPR's Weekends on All Things Considered and WNYC's On The Media. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School.
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