Jolie Devoto Wade, and her husband,  Hunter Wade. (photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Jolie Devoto Wade, and her husband, Hunter Wade. (photo by John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

A little news from our friends in the world of cider: Sebastopol’s Devoto Cider took gold at the 2014 Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition over the weekend. Then they took silver. And then bronze, making it a bit of a sweep.

The competition, the ninth annual, drew 375 entries from commercial cideries from all over the world – including a good contingent of French ciders, and a scattering from as far away as Australia and New Zealand. After decades hovering near extinction, traditional cider in the U.S. is making a robust recovery, particularly here in Sonoma County. In addition to the international entries, Devoto was up against stiff competition from other booming U.S. centers of apple and cider production, including Oregon, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

The gold winner was Devoto’s 1976, a semi-dry cider that blends 17 heirloom varieties and is named for the year that the Devoto family moved from Berkeley to Sonoma County to try their hands at the apple business; the fruit comes from those original trees. It took the top spot in the Common Cider category.

Silver and Bronze both came with semi-dry ciders in the New World Cider category: Cidre Noir took second place and Save the Gravenstein took third. Cidre Noir is made primarily from Arkansas Black, Black Twig, and Black Jonathan apples (thus the name, see?), while Save the Gravenstein is made almost entirely with juice of Sonoma County’s iconic Gravenstein apple (about 5 percent of the juice is from other varieties to provide a little balance).

“This is the beginning of something great. In Sonoma County, we’re able to grow some of the best apples in the world. The dry-farming of the trees (not irrigating) and the coastal fog climate create beautiful acidic and tannic structure in the fruit that translates to the ciders made from these apples,” co-owner Jolie Devoto Wade said in a release announcing the wins. “It’s only a matter of time until Sonoma County is put on the map for being not only one of the best wine and food-producing regions in the world, but also cider.”

– Sean Scully

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