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The Cider Farm

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Mineral Point, WI

 
 
Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Travel Alcohol Blogger- Cider Farm- Bottled cider in a wooden box

There are 2 different locations we are going to talk about in this post which makes the Cider Farm unique: the Madison Tasting Room (Tasting Room) and the Mineral Point Orchard and Farm (The Farm).


Attached to Brennan’s Market, The Tasting Room is an easy walk for anyone living in the neighborhoods near West Towne Mall in Madison. Living on the West Side of Madison ourselves, this was an easy and convenient stop on what promises to be a long journey through the various creators of spirits,wine, beer, ciders, and mead throughout Wisconsin.


During the summer the Tasting Room has ample patio space and a greenhouse with garage doors that can be lifted to create a unique indoor/outdoor space that is becoming increasingly common at hot spots around the state. As the weather comes up to comfortable in spring or begins to drop in the fall heaters are brought out to the patio and sanitized blankets provided in the greenhouse. This tasting room has it all: an in-house chef who creates different specials throughout the weekend, charcuterie boards to keep hunger pangs away (or to keep you from getting a little too tipsy before dinner), and live music on Friday and Saturday nights. Brunch awaits those venturesome souls who like rising before noon on Sundays.

***As of early 2022, The Cider Farm no longer offers entrees or Brunch. ***

When you walk into the Tasting Room you will notice those aforementioned garage doors make up an entire wall of the tasting room as well as half of the walls of the greenhouse. They let in an abundance of natural light which is enough to cheer anyone up even on an overcast winter day. It easily competes for one of the best indoor/outdoor spaces in the Madison area. Yes, there are places with patios, there’s the Streatery Program, and there are decks but this one feels gives you that cozy modern vibe with exposed ductwork, barn doors and wooden countertops. Though it seems upscale at first glance, the staff make the space very approachable.


The Farm, located in Mineral Point, has endless apple trees, a friendly but mischievous dog, and the signature rolling hills of the Driftless Region. The drive out to the farm alone on an autumn day is worth it if only for the scenery you take in along the way. At The Farm you can tour the grounds while picking up facts about how tough it is to grow cider apples in Wisconsin, the tree-grafting process, the dangerous diseases that threaten the trees, and how vital certain insects are (not just bees). It leaves you with a greater appreciation for all the work that goes into this cider and puts into perspective that the Wisconsin Farm is really the base of all the wonderful libations we enjoy at this blog.


To sum up the atmosphere, at the Farm, to say serene would be cliche, but there is something out there as you watch the wind turn the leaves upside down and wiggle the apples that definitely puts you at peace. Madison is a beautiful city, but it is still a city. Going out to that farm, even in the heat of the day, can let you escape for a moment into a moment of quiet for yourself.


But why go alone? The farm offers not only tours but picnic baskets filled with neat little snacks as well as a bottle of cider to share.



The Cider Farm prides itself on local organic everything (whenever possible). The food specials start with heritage pork fed on organic leftover apples from the orchard. The Cyser uses organic honey from bees housed locally on the farm who are creating honey off of the organic trees that the pollinate. The interconnections run deep and the efficiency of nature is ever-present when taking a close look at how the Farm and Tasting Room work in tandem.


A Brief History of The Farm

John and his wife Deirdre own 166 acres of property in Mineral Point, WI where they built their own house and have about 15,000 apple trees [as of the writing of this article, more are planned]. We were part of the lucky few to actually tour the farm on their first ever Farm Tour. While John is the face of the tasting room, Deirdre is the farmer. She walked us around the farm telling us all about each tree variety (which she grafted herself) as well as the process in which a grafted apple tree becomes a cider. Probably more science than I could ever explain but it was fascinating.


In a quick post Deirdre speaks a little more about the trees: Cider Farm "Meanwhile back at the farm..." But to learn more I highly recommend taking the tour of the farm.


Cider and Beer taps in the Tasting Room, along with some bar seating

If the tasting room is open, you have a very good chance of speaking with one, if not, both owners. A tasting room wherein the owner is present, while admittedly, not always practical, is definitely going to be one of the more rewarding experiences you’ll come across if you’re following along in our footsteps. Someone who knows the answers to the questions and more importantly, can explain the answers makes for better conversation. Many times there are staff repeating notes from the tasting menu itself, but don’t know anything beyond that. It’s understandable as imbibement creation is not everyone’s passion, and sometimes a job is a job, but this blog is going to heavily favor tasting rooms where the authors can learn the most.


John can tell you exactly what apples went into each cider, and while he isn’t familiar with the ins and outs of what goes into growing them (that’s Dierdre's forté ) he can definitely rattle off the history of the cider business here in Wisconsin and has played a major role in bringing the cider scene to Wisconsin. There have been instances of us visiting other cideries and mentioning the impact John and Dierdre have had in introducing newer cideries to the business from tree grafting to apple varietal suggestions.


This information is not always passed along by staff, however. Luckily, though, John is near-always in the tasting room and is more than willing to chat with you about the business of creating excellent cider.


The Ciders

All ciders are served in wine glasses. As the owner, John, explains: their ciders have a “cider refreshment, [and] wine complexity”. Which I would agree with. The ciders are not your typical super sweet cider, but a very dry almost champagne like taste. This makes them easy to drink and delicious. The Cider Farm actually is one of the few places where just about everything they put their hand to is a delight, truly.


Oak Aged (5.4% ABV), gives toasted wood notes reminiscent of a decent whiskey without the warm bite of that whiskey at the back of your throat. Those toasted notes play off of tannins already present in the apples to create a pleasantly dry and complex mixture of


Cyser (9.2% ABV), while cutting just a little too close for mead to me, rather than Cider, is a big hit with friends who are fans of more traditional big name ciders. There are still some of those tannin notes in it, so don’t expect a sugary syrup beverage made famous by a certain gnarled tree in a blue can. There is just enough sweetness to win over those who have grown up thinking that the gnarled tree is the final word in Cider. Spoilers, this is how a sweet cider should be done.


Rosé (5.5% ABV) - as promised, the star of the show the Cider farm hits a home-run for not just the ladies, but the guys as well. Hints of strawberry and slight hits of bing cherries coupled with the pink hue and tannic mouthfeel could fool a passerby into believing that they had stumbled upon some sort of unique cider-champagne. Effervescent and bright, the Rosé is a limited release but definitely a must-try.


Equinox (5.9% ABV) - I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the perfect marriage of beer and apples. Keep your Bud Lights, your Redd’s, and all other manner of gut-rots. This isn’t beer, but it’s damned close. Cider made with equinox hops gives that pleasant and oh-so-welcome bitterness that you can smell as soon as it’s poured from the bottle. It’s a well-known smell to me that you usually only experience on hops farms, or in near the vats at breweries and it’s a smell that this writer has associated with bliss.


The Cider Farm also makes a 2 year aged and a 5 year aged apple brandy. Makes great old fashions!


Until next time, keep on crusin’, don’t stop boozin’.


To learn more about The Cider Farm please visit their website: www.theciderfarm.com. You can also catch them on Instagram or Facebook.


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