Twenty years ago, one would be unlikely to hear the term “hard cider” unless they knew someone making a batch in their basement. Now, cider is all the rage, and in orchard-heavy Wisconsin, it’s no surprise that there are great producers in every corner of the state.
Brix Cider, Mount Horeb
Marie and Matt Raboin manage their own orchard and source apples from at least 21 Badger state orchards, producing unique small batches. Their taproom, located off the Military Ridge State Trail in downtown Mount Horeb, serves 12 ever-changing ciders, some of which are flavored with fruit, hops, or other unexpected ingredients. brixcider.com
The Cider Farm, Madison
Deirdre Birmingham has three degrees in agriculture while her husband, John Biondi, takes inspiration from his Italian grandfather, a farmer.They founded an organic orchard near Mineral Point, growing tannin-rich English and French apples to make dry ciders and apple brandy.Try their five flagship ciders and various others on tap in their Madison tasting room walled in by glass garage doors that open to patio seating in season. theciderfarm.com
Island Orchard Cider, Ellison Bay
A 1930’s fish and produce warehouse was reimagined into a cidery and tasting room by Bob Purman and his wife, Yannique, after he decided to turn his hobby into a full-fledged operation. The apples and pears come from their orchard on Washington Island and are available on tap and to-go. No matter your cider excitement level, we’re betting you’ll find something to enjoy, either with its apple, cherry or pear ciders or varieties infused with flavors, including hops, ginger and lavender. They also produce Pomona, a cider and apple brandy liqueur. Though the cidery distributes statewide, the specialty ciders are only sold here—at least for now. islandorchardcider.com
Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery, Stockholm
This expansive farm and orchard features hayrides and pick-your-own produce, while their tasting room provides drinks and samples of their award-winning ciders and wines. Founders Herdie Baisden and Carol Wiersma have served as presidents of the boards of directors for the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association and Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association, respectively. Events throughout the year makes this much more than just a sampling stop — like their collaborations with the La Crosse Queen, a replica of a paddlewheel steamer that cruises down the Mississippi River. However, with COVID-19, many of Maiden Rock’s events had to be postponed, so you’ll want to check their website for current event updates. maidenrockappleswinerycidery.com
& Distillery, Burlington
Pronounced “Apple True,” the name is Old English for both apple tree and apple truth. Charles and Milissa McGonegal work with heritage apples and pears from Brighton Woods Orchard. The resulting ciders and perry (an alcoholic drink made from the fermented juice of pears) are high in tannins with some of that faithful to European styles, while others are modern and flavored. Many of its ciders are draft or sparkling, but it also has still, table, distilled and dessert varieties available. This is a bottle shop with a tasting bar, not a taproom, though picnic tables are available outside and visitors stroll the orchards from May to November. If you visit, be sure to wear your face mask. aeppeltreow.com
White Winter Winery, Iron River
This highly regarded meadery gets apple juice from Erickson’s Orchard in Bayfield to produce five semi-dry ciders. One of Wisconsin’s first commercial cideries, White Winter has awards to show for their efforts. The Northern Highlands Cider is its most decorated with roughly eight awards and the Bois Brule Hopped Cider was voted best in Wisconsin in 2017. The ciders, meads, cyser (a mead- cider hybrid) and distillates are available at the sampling bar in the winery shop, but be sure to call a head before visiting. Its indoor capacity has been restricted for health and safety reasons. whitewinter.com
Lost Valley Cider Co., Milwaukee
If anything confirms the popularity of cider, it’s this dedicated cider bar and bottle shop with more than 20 on tap from a variety of regional and international producers, plus bottles, cans and cider cocktails. The hip tavern setting also features patio seating in season, and allows carry-in food. lostvalley.com
This article originally appeared in the 2020 issue of Experience Wisconsin magazine. The contents of this article were checked for accuracy when it was published; however, it’s possible some of the information has changed. We recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the destinations, attractions or restaurants mentioned in this article.
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