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  • Writer's pictureBig Rick Stuart

Napa Valley winemakers are diversifying into cider, beer and spirits

Californian winemakers are venturing into other premium beverages, showing that the Napa Valley has more to offer than just its viticulture.

Treasury Wine Estates director of technical viticulture, sustainability and research, Will Drayton, who is also a co-creator of Sawhorse Ciders which he began with friends while studying at UC Davis, is one such category-traverser.

According to Drayton, apples can capture the same terroir that winemakers are constantly talking about, giving each specific cider a sense of place.

“Virtually none of these orchards are irrigated, and many have big, established trees that have been there for multiple generations, so it is kind of like making wine from old vines. They have a bunch of sugars and enzymes and acids and other components in there that we don’t normally have with wine, so the balance is a little bit trickier. With wine, you know what the rules of the road are, and with cider, you have a new set of parameters of what is important,” he explained.

Also diversifying his skillset is winemaker for David Arthur Vineyards Nile Zacherle, who is also the co-founder of Mad Fritz Brewing. Zacherle described how “after two decades of making wine, the idea was to approach beer with more of a winemaker lens. I want people to think about beer on a different level. I think the challenge is getting people to look at beer differently and to be a little bit more open minded”.

photo - sawhorse ciders

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