In the hills near Sebastopol, California, amidst all the vineyards, is a small cidery named Devoto Orchards. Devoto uses exclusively California-grown certified organic apples for their ciders and more than that, they grow more than a hundred different varieties of apples! Though they’ve only been making cider for a few of the 40 years they have had the farm, a few years is apparently all you need to make an award-winning bunch. According to the cidery, the sandy soil and coastal fog, which produces amazing wine grapes, is also very good for their heirloom and cider apples.
Devoto’s gluten-free cider is only made between the months of August to November, which are when the apples are the freshest. These apples are shaken off tree branches before being turned into one of four artisanal ciders: 1976, Cider Noir, Gravenstein and Backyard.
In 1976, the Devoto family left Berkeley to brew cider and their 1976 Cider is an homage to that beginning. 1976 is a semi-dry cider blended from the 17 original apple varieties that the family started with.
Cider Noir is a dry cider made from the last apples picked of the season. The flavors in these apples develop for seven months before being harvested in late October.
Gravenstein is a semi dry cider that is 95% Gravestein apples. Gravestein apples, which used to be abundant in the Napa / Sonoma area, are mostly gone now with their roots dug up to make way for all the vineyards that popped up in the last two generations.
Devoto Orchards’Backyard, released in October 2013, is made from apples grown in neighbors’backyards, a project in partnership with Slow Food Russian River. Sales proceeds benefit the nonprofit group.
If you want to try Devoto, you have to be quick, the first ciders of the harvest are released in October, and there’s a waiting list for restaurants or store who want to carry any of their blends. Be sure to follow them on Facebook. If you’re located in Northern California to see which Farmer’s Markets they will be at, or visit their website.