New Directions topics
Orchard branches out with hard cider
By MICHEL ELBEN
BRIDGEVILLE, Del. — T.S. Smith & Sons debuted Delaware’s first and only sparkling hard cider last month. Black Twig Sparkling Hard Apple Cider is now on sale at participating retail locations.
In cooperation with Great Shoals Winery, in Princess Anne, Md., the Smiths used the fall harvest of their heirloom variety Black Twig apples to make a value-added, local product.
T.S. Smith & Sons often receive questions from customers about where to get the “hard” variety of the apple cider that is sold at their farm stand. Unfortunately, no one in Delaware produced a hard version of apple cider – until now.
Great Shoals Winery, just down Route 13 from the Smiths’ farm, had completed production of a different Maryland cider from the Spencerville Red apple. Throughout Delmarva, customers were already enjoying what Great Shoals had to offer.
The partnership between the two companies was a natural fit. “It just happened,” said Smith.
Matt Cimino, Great Shoals’ winemaker was searching for a Delaware apple with a distinctive taste for another small-batch (about 300 cases) of wine he had envisioned. The Smiths were looking to fill their customers’ requests.
“Our Black Twig apples were planted by my father and uncle,” Charlie Smith of T.S. Smith & Sons said. “They’ve been on our farm for 80 to 90 years.”
“The natural sweetness of the apples and the bottle fermentation process transitions the cider to a flavorful dry sparkling wine,” Cimino explained. Cimino said he felt fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time, “Black Twig makes a unique addition to our line,” he said.
Cimino said Black Twig hard cider is technically considered a sparkling wine because of the alcohol content and because it is fermented in bottle, but “most apple products are considered ciders.”
Before the Smiths’ new cider, apple cider had to go through a pasteurization process in order to become “hard.” Although Black Twig apples are a heritage variety this whole process is progressive, much like the Smiths themselves.
“This sparkling hard cider has many historic qualities, just like our farm,” said Matt Smith. “It is also very cutting edge, just as many of the methods we have adopted, such as converting to solar power and water conservation technologies.”
“It is very much in line with what we are trying to accomplish through our sustainable farming techniques and commitment to sourcing locally,” said Charlie Smith. “We appreciate that people care about how their food is produced and where it comes from. We know our customers are going to love it. We hope there is still some around by apple season.”
T.S. Smith & Sons do not store apples long term, preferring instead to market them just after they have been picked.
T.S. Smith & Sons’ Black Twig Sparkling Hard Apple Cider is available for sale throughout Delmarva and in regional locations.