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Vegas Valley Introduces “The Sidewinder,” Nevada’s First Commercially Produced Cider

It started as a strategy to boost the Vegas Valley Winery’s total Nevada fruit content as commercial demand for Nevada grapes increases. But the winery has a hit on its hands, and now the question is, “how much more can we make?”

Vegas Valley’s new hard cider, The Sidewinder, is the first cider made in Nevada, for sale in Nevada. Despite its sinister sounding name, the pale gold beverage goes down very easy with 6.9 percent ABV, a mild, sweet fragrance and just enough snap. Story Continues below…

Kathy Halbardier samples The Sidewinder in a meeting with members of the Vegas Valley team on August 28, 2019.

The winery used 100 percent Nevada-grown apples from the Gilcrease Orchard in North Las Vegas and from Smith Valley in northern Nevada. Vegas Valley co-owner Mike Schoenbachler says the idea for a hard cider popped up while he was shopping for produce.

“What if we were to make something out of other fruit to try to up our production?” he said. “Now we can produce more wine because we made apple cider.”

But, Schoenbachler says, it’s a double edged sword. More production requires more Nevada fruit. “It’s so popular, we want to make more, but now we come up against the production limits again.”

Schoenbachler says the cider was “Chad’s baby,”  a reference to winemaking colleague Chad Evans, who concocted The Sidewinder a year ago. Another batch is aging now, while Vegas Valley designs a label and contemplates the product’s future.

“Anyone that carries craft beer in town would carry a local craft cider,” Schoenbachler says. “But we can’t produce enough of it.”

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