The Hippo


Jun 3, 2020








 Craft Wine, Mead, and Cider Making class 

Where: Hermit Woods Winery, 72 Main St., Meredith
When: Saturday, Feb. 18, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.; classes continue monthly 
Cost: $20 
2016 Hermit Hard Apple Cider release 
Where: Hermit Woods Winery, 72 Main St., Meredith
When: Saturday, Feb. 18, 1 to 3 p.m. 
Cost: free admission; cider is $12.95 per bottle 


Cider sips
Hermit Woods offers new hard cider and classes

By Angie Sykeny

You can sip on craft hard cider, learn about wine and even adopt a kitten when Hermit Woods Winery in Meredith launches its new cider and a new class series on Saturday, Feb. 18. 

Cider release 
From 1 to 3 p.m., the winery will be pouring the first samples of its 2016 Hermit Hard Apple Cider for visitors, accompanied by the New Hampshire Humane Society, which will have a number of adoptable kittens and cats onsite.  
The Old World-style cider features six thick-skinned French and English heirloom apple varieties that are grown, selected and pressed by Apple Hill Farm in Concord. To deepen the cider’s complexity, Hermit Woods winemaker Ken Hardcastle floats whole crab apples and quinces in the cider during fermentation, which allows the flavor and tannin from the fruit skins to become more prominent. 
“I think my methodology in unique,” Hardcastle said. “It makes for a unique, robust and satisfying cider. It’s very different from commercial mainstream ciders, which have high-fructose corn syrup and are done in a simplistic fashion.” 
The 2016 release is the second commercial batch of the cider, but Hardcastle said those who have tasted the 2015 release will find the second to be quite different. That’s because the harvest conditions for those two years were completely opposite of each other; the 2015 season was bountiful, yielding big, juicy fruits that created an indulgent cider with a medley of flavors. The drought during the 2016 season, however, resulted in smaller, thicker-skinned fruits, which produced a more robust cider. 
“The pulp tends to be sweeter because that’s where all the sugar is, but the skin has more bitterness and dryness,” Hardcastle said. “The liberated flavor components from the skin give a richer character to the cider.” 
In the coming months, the winery will release an all new lineup of ciders with three additional varieties: hard cranberry apple cider, hard blueberry apple cider and a barrel-aged hard apple cider reserve. 
The original cider is expected to be available to purchase starting Feb. 18 for $12.95 per bottle at the winery, through online order and at select retail shops. Five percent of each sale will benefit the New Hampshire Humane Society. Hermit Woods raised nearly $600 for the NHHS through its cider sales last year and even adopted two kittens — appropriately named Pinot and Noir — who live at the winery. 
“They love people. They are real crowd-pleasers,” Hardcastle said. “It’s great to be able to interact with the community like this.” 
Class series 
Later that evening from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Hermit Woods will host the first of its new monthly Craft Wine, Mead and Cider Making classes. Each class will cover a different topic such as wine regions and grapes, wine history, how to taste and evaluate wine, apple varieties used for cider, honey varieties used for mead and more. 
“It grew out of questions that people were asking in the tasting room,” Hardcastle said. “People are curious about wine and cider and mead and are eager to learn more, so this provides an avenue for them to learn and a way for us to answer some of those questions.” 
In the first class, Hardcastle will talk about classic red and white wines and how to judge wine. Participants will taste three examples of red grape wines and three examples of white, then analyze the differences between the grape varieties, production methods and regions in which the wines were produced. Then, there will be an opportunity to taste and judge a Hermit Woods wine that was recently judged at a wine competition and to compare tasting notes with the official judges’ evaluation. 
Hardcastle said he is interested to see how people respond to the classes and is open to expanding the series in the future if there is enough interest. 
“We love talking about this stuff,” he said. “We want to help enhance people’s understanding. There’s a lot to talk about and experience in the world of wine and cider and mead.” 

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