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2016 Maryland Wine Festival to feature new cider pavilion

Millstone Cellars, of Monkton, display their bottles. They will be one of two cideries featured at this year's Maryland Wine Festival Sept. 17 & 18.
Millstone Cellars, of Monkton, display their bottles. They will be one of two cideries featured at this year's Maryland Wine Festival Sept. 17 & 18. (Caiti Sullivan)

Cidermaking is a growing craft in Maryland's libation industry and Maryland Wineries Association officials say they want that technique to be exhibited at this year's Maryland Wine Festival. The festival will be held Saturday, Sept. 17, and Sunday, Sept. 18, at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster.

"There are now more cideries than ever before," said Maryland Wineries Association Event Manager Rebecca Gushen. "It's important to represent this growing craft in the Maryland wine industry."

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According to Gushen, the two cideries featured at this year's festival will be Great Shoals Winery, of Silver Spring, and Millstone Cellars, of Monkton. Gushen said the cideries will be in a designated area of the festival so visitors can compare the two and learn about the different methods and mentalities behind making hard cider.

The Baltimore Sun visited the wineries that make up Maryland's increasingly popular Piedmont Wine Trail.

"They both feature hard cider but they're very different. Their products vary dramatically in flavor profile, style, ingredients and the methods they use to make them," Gushen said.

For Carroll County Farm Museum Manager Joanne Weant, the event's return to the museum's grounds is always eagerly anticipated.

"It really is Maryland's premier wine event, and we're proud that we've been the home of the festival for more than 30 years now," Weant said. "We think the cider pavilion will be a welcome addition because as a team we all work together to offer new things and change up the lineup as much as we can."

Weant added that the Maryland Cheese Pavilion will return this year. She also said the VIP Explorer Pass, which costs $50, will feature more than 50 of the top Maryland wines. The event will also feature a variety of food vendors to pair with wine and cider.

Millstone Cellars sourcing specialist Brody McAllister places crushed apples into an apple press to extract the juice that will be then fermented into cider.
Millstone Cellars sourcing specialist Brody McAllister places crushed apples into an apple press to extract the juice that will be then fermented into cider.

Event and Market Coordinator Caiti Sullivan, who works at one of the participating cideries, Millstone Cellars, said she thinks the new pavilion will raise the profile of cider.

"It's a very unique drink. Apples have many varieties, and they are specific to regions in which they're grown," Sullivan said. "The cider pavilion can be appreciated similar to wine. We're excited to work with the Wine Festival to join the community of people interested in unique beverages in Maryland."

Sullivan said Millstone Cellars is a rustic farmhouse cidery that uses traditional cider techniques.

Although Hailey Hubble wouldn't typically choose a dry white wine, she tasted one Saturday at The Maryland Wine Festival.

"We ferment in recycled oak barrels and separate the different varieties of apple so we can taste its unique flavor," Sullivan said. "We think it lends real complexity to our ciders. We're excited to share that unique perspective with festival-goers."

Great Shoals Winery owner Matt Cimino said this will be his fifth year vending at the festival.

"We love Carroll County. The folks have been very supportive of Great Shoals, and we've been bringing ciders since our first year. The customers keep coming back and asking us to bring more," Cimino said.

Cimino said he hopes the new pavilion will raise visitors' awareness of hard cider's availability at the festival, and he expects the pavilion will generate new visitors.

Millstone Cellars prefers to use apples that have higher sugar content as well as more developed flavors.
Millstone Cellars prefers to use apples that have higher sugar content as well as more developed flavors. (Caiti Sullivan)

"It may bring people in that might have an interest in hard cider. This will help them know where to find us," Cimino said.

Cimino said he looks forward to sharing the festival with his fellow Maryland wineries.

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"I'm looking forward to reconnecting with customers and seeing old friends in the industry," Cimino said. "The weather should be nice. I always look forward to going and seeing all the customers we developed over the years. The crowd's always enthusiastic."

If you go:

What: 2016 Maryland Wine Festival

Where: Carroll County Farm Museum, 500 S. Center St., Westminster

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18

Cost: $30 to $50

For more information: Call 410-386-3880 or visit http://www.marylandwine.org/mwf/

410-857-7873

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Visitors pack the Carroll County Farm Museum for the annual Maryland Wine Festival.
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