Fresh Pick: Wölffer Introduces Red Hard Cider to Expanding Line

Wölffer Estate No. 139 Red Cider
Wölffer Estate No. 139 Red Cider

In their ongoing effort to try new things and expand and diversify the brand, Wölffer Estate Vineyard recently added a new No. 139 Red Cider to their offerings, and it’s been a smashing success.

Wölffer winemaker Roman Roth says the new cider is the natural continuation of a cider line that began with apple wine in 1997 and grew to include Cuvee Cider (using 100% Gold Rush apples), No. 139 White Cider and the newer No. 139 Dry Rosé Cider. “It’s a wonderful addition to the wines we have,” Roth adds, pointing out that the hard ciders attract younger drinkers, yet they never sacrifice on quality.

Roman Roth in the vines
Courtesy Roman Roth

“We pick more than 12 million apples by hand,” Roth explains, noting that white apples are harvested locally from Halsey Farm, while rosé and red apples come from Upstate, NY in Rochester, where the cider is produced and bottled. “These are picked here by large crews,” Roth says,” and because the apples are not ground harvested, shaken from trees or gathered by machine, “The quality is very high.”

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After apples are picked, Roth says they are fermented with wine yeast at cooler temperatures (61–62°), preserving the “aroma, freshness and elegance,” and delivering a more fruit-focused flavor, unlike the bitter, “stinky ciders” he grew up drinking in Germany.

Wölffer made some 4,000 cases of No. 139 Red Cider for their initial release, which came out over Labor Day weekend, and only about 600–800 cases remain in storage. “It’s flying off the shelves—we already have to make another batch,” the winemaker says. The white cider also started at 4,000 cases, and demand now calls for 170,000 cases.

Wolffer Cider
Wölffer’s other cider offerings: No. 139 White Cider and No. 139 Dry Rosé Cider

No. 139 Red Cider comprises a variety of apples, including, 10% Jonagold, 20% Mutsu (Crispin), 10% Golden Delicious, 30% Idared, 20% Law Rome and 10% Northern Spy.

Roth’s winemaker notes say, “This chilled dry red has beautiful aromatic notes of raspberry, black currant, and blackberry with lively acidity and a clean finish. Cherry red in color, there is a refreshing hint of lemons. The cider is elegant and playful with beautiful balance between the fine tannins and juicy fruit.”

Best served chilled, Wölffer suggests enjoying their No. 139 Red Cider with party and picnic foods, such as hors-d’oeuvres, salads and cheeses or fruit pies and tarts. It will also pair nicely with Mexican or Asian dishes. It’s currently unavailable in Wölffer’s online store.

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