Wildcard is an adventurous cider made from heirloom Gravenstein Apples and wild grapes making it a uniquely Sonoma County experience. Before the omnipresence of vineyards, the Russian River area was known for apples. Gravensteins are on the Slow Food Foundation’s stringent Ark of Taste catalog which supports the preservation of heritage foods unique to particular regions. Gravenstein apples have a long and rich history within Sebastopol in Sonoma County. The apples for Wildcard are dry-farmed and certified Organic (CCOF) at the Hallberg Butterfly Gardens.
In 1883 John F. Hallberg purchased some land at the edge of Sebastopol that would become a fertile ranch sustaining berries, cherries, prunes, pears, apples and hops along with Gravenstein apples. In the 1920’s Della Hallberg (wife of Alfred Hallberg) decided to plant native Dutchman’s Pipevine (Aristilochia Californica). These vines thrived, creating a habitat for the stunning Pipevine Swallowtail (illustrated and carved into a wood block on the front label) that would grow into the beginnings of the oldest butterfly garden in the county.
In 2021, the Gravensteins were hand picked the second week of August. After a week to sweat, the apples were pressed and the juice left to spontaneously ferment with wild yeast. For this vintage, the grapes are from wild accessions that have been collected from around California. These one-of-a-kind cultivars are now being responsibly farmed in Sonoma County. These wild grapes incorporate some additional acidity, tannin and a vibrant pink hue. The Gravenstein cider was aged sur lie in older American oak barrels for 6 months before being racked, blended and bottled. There are no added sulfites and as always, everything is unfined and unfiltered. The cider is completely dry and remains undisgorged. To be served well chilled with either the natural sediment left in the bottle or enjoyed hazy.
-North Americam Press