It’s all about the apples at Keepsake Cidery.

The cidery, located in Dundas, sprouted with the idea of different blends of apples dictating the flavor of the hard cider it produces. It means a lot of experimentation for owners Nate Watters, Tracy Jonkman and Jim Bovino, but that’s part of the appeal.

“For us, we’re going for a cider with a lot of character,” Watters said. “We don’t mind if it’s challenging.”

Cider, once a staple of American consumption, has seen a resurgence in recent years. The market share for cider has increased by fivefold in the past three years, according to an article on fivethirtyeight.com.

The owners of Keepsake Cidery want to cash in on the rise in popularity with cider, but on their terms. Keepsake Cidery uses locally-sourced apples. Many come from Sogn Valley Orchard, while others are University of Minnesota apples. The majority of the apples Keepsake Cidery uses come from Minnesota and the cidery uses around eight to 10 main apples for its ciders.

Prohibition played a role in decreasing the popularity of cider, even leading some to cut down apple orchards. Then a wave of immigration introduced more producers of beer after Prohibition and the country seemed to forget about cider.

“Our goal is to kind of bring back that every day use of cider in a very pure form,” Jonkman said.

Producing cider in as pure a form as possible means limited use of sulfites for Keepsake Cidery. Sulfites are typically added to sterilize the juice to be able to add commercial yeast strains. Keepsake prefers to allow the natural yeasts to work to produce different flavors consumers don’t see with commercial ciders.

“We want the apple to speak,” Bovino said.

Apples come from local orchards now, but the cidery planted its own orchard in 2014 and plans to use apples from those trees in the future.

Bovino, Watters and Jonkman have plans to expand to selling their cider to restaurants and eventually retail spots. As of now, the group relies on sales through its Cider Club.

“We do most of our sales through Cider Club because that gives us a connection to the consumer,” Watters said. “We like knowing who we’re selling our cider to and we like them knowing us.”

Cider Club memberships are one avenue the businesse uses to sell its products. Based on CSA models, a half share, which includes 13 bottles, costs $185, while a full share, which includes 26 bottles, costs $360. Those who purchase a half share or full share get a one-time or quarterly delivery of cider, access to exclusive ciders, Keepsake merchandise and invites to events. The first cider will be available this summer.

Producing cider with such attention to detail means a more time-consuming process, but that sits fine with Watters, Bovino and Johnkman.

“For us, the reward is, I think, a more interesting product than what it could be,” Watters said.

Nick Gerhardt is the Northfield News’ sports editor. You can reach him at 645-1111. Follow him on Twitter @NorthfieldNick.

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