Sag Harbor’s Roman Roth is well versed in crafting Wölffer’s summer in a bottle. Now, with the high season in the Hamptons unofficially officially over, Roth and vineyard co-owner Joey Wölffer have found a way to bottle fall up as well.
Wölffer Estate Vineyard has just recently made a sparkling entrance into the hard cider market. Bidding farewell to summer and heralding autumn with the season’s signature ingredient, apples, the vineyard has released Wölffer No. 139 Dry White Cider and Wölffer No. 139 Dry Rosé Cider, two varietals of sparkling cider.
This is the first major product shift intro Joey and brother Marc have introduced since purchasing the estate earlier this year. “Our vision is really to take our father’s legacy and build on that with our own ideas and concepts,” says Joey Wölffer. “The cider is a good example of that process.”
The official cider release party was held at the vineyard on August 16, and thus far Roth’s prediction that there would be a high demand has been true. “The cider market has gone wild,” he says.
Roth wanted to create a “product that does not look like beer…(something that) does not have a hedgehog.” Made from a selection of apples grown by the Halseys of White Cap Farm in Bridgehampton, Roth attests that Wölffer’s sparkling ciders are more feminine and aromatic than beer. They’re also not as sweet as other ciders or as carbonated as a soft drink. “It’s fun,” says Roth. “It has all come together perfectly.”
What distinguishes a Wölffer Estate hard cider from other ciders is that it’s made from all fresh ingredients, with no artificial flavors. “It’s as pure and clean as it gets,” says Roth. The noticeable clearness of the liquid comes from the filtration process, which takes all the yeast and bacteria out of the cider.
“Jennifer Halsey brings us a selection of 20-plus apples,” explains Roth of the cider-making process. He then taste tests the apples, making note of qualities like crispness, ripeness and flavor, and picks the varietals with the best acidity. This year’s apple combination is 26% Braeburn, 17% Gold Rush, 15% Cameo, 9% Fuji, 8% Pink Lady, 8% Jonagold, 6% Granny Smith, 5% Golden Delicious, 3% NY2 and 3% Idared.
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” cautions Roth, who says that he does not have a preference between the two ciders, as “they’re both my children.” Though, he admits that “whatever I touch turns pink,” as the reason for creating a dry rosé.
“The sparkling dry white was a natural selection but since our rosé wines are considered by many to be the ‘drink of the Hamptons’ we would naturally have to make a rosé version,” says Wölffer.
The labels and carriers, which feature collages of seasonal beach memories, reflect the bohemian spirit of a Hamptons summer that lingers throughout the year. The “139” refers to Wölffer’s address—139 Sagg Road, Sagaponack, which is where you can pick of a four-pack of the bubbly, best served chilled. “139 isn’t just an address anymore,” says Wölffer. “It’s a great hard cider.”