Lesson of the Day #15 - Woodchuck Hard Cider

In an opposite start to Lincoln Peak Vineyard, which began with apples, Woodchuck began at a winery. In 1991 wine maker Greg Failing began experimenting with apples in his garage in Proctorsville. He teamed up with his companions, Barry Blake and Joe Cerniglia of the Joseph Cerniglia Winery in Cavendish Vt, and launched their hard cider under the name Woodchuck.

They had resurrected cider (or what is often called hard cider to distinguish it from the unfiltered apple juice we have incorrectly dubbed cider.) Cider had been a popular drink since the American revolution and through the 1800’s but virtually disappeared from the American palate in the wake of Prohibition.

The taste for cider caught on, as Woodchuck took home awards at craft beer festivals, growing the company quickly through the 90s. Despite rocky times after being purchased by Bulmer’s of England in 1998, Woodchuck rebounded after being purchased again in 2003 by Brett Williams, Woodchucks first salesman.

By 2011 they became the top selling cider in the US, and in 2012 combined with the Irish cider company C&C.

Today they continue with their core styles including Hopsation, a cider made with hops as well as innovating new flavors they call their private reserve, such as one with the taste of Kentucky bourbon, one made from Belgian beer yeast, and the world’s first pumpkin cider.

Woodchuck also hosts one of the biggest events in the region, the Ciderstock Music Festival, drawing in 10,000 people for a weekend each August since 2014.

Trivia: A woodchuck is a rodent from the large ground squirrel family known as marmot. What’s another name for a woodchuck?

Answer: Groundhog, groundpig, whistlepig, whistler, chuck, monax, moonack, thickwood badger, red monk and others.

Michael Breyette