Apples, be they of the cider or dessert variety, can grow throughout the continental United States. The same can be said for grapes. However, like grapes, apple trees tend to produce higher quality fruit in those regions where the climate (and to some extent, soil) are better suited to the fruit.
Certain states/regions in the U.S. have a far higher concentration of apple orchards and with them, cideries. This is not by chance. These regions have demonstrated for centuries that they are capable of producing higher quality apples and higher quality cider.
The Top Five States For Cider Production in the United States (in no particular order):
New York State is the second largest producer of apples in the United States and counts over 700 apple growers. A large number of craft cider producers call New York home including Original Sin, Eve’s Cidery and Doc’s Hard Cider. Most orchards are found Up-State including the Hudson and Champlain valleys.
Though not the greatest source of apples in the country the state of Oregon has become a hotbed for craft cider production over the past decade due in large part to the state’s appropriate climate for apple cultivation and a spirit of craft entrepreneurship in the state. Apples are grown primarily in three parts of the state: The Willamette Valley, the Mid-Columbia Valley and the Milton-Freewater region. Among the prominent cideries in the state are Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider, Wandering Aengus and Square Mile Cider
Washington State is the largest producer of apples in the United States with upwards of 170,00 acres of orchards. It should be no surprise then that Washington is home to more cideries than any other state. Today, Washington counts upwards of 30+ cideries in the state. Among more renown Washington cidermakers are: Finnriver, Tieton Ciderworks, and Snowdrift Cider.
California is the fifth largest producer of apples in the United States with roughly 14,000 acres of apple orchards producing today. While the largest number of apples are grown in the warm San Joaquin Valley, the center of the California cider industry is in the northern portion of the state and located primarily in Sonoma and Mendocino counties. Here the Gravenstein apple, an excellent cider apple, once held sway then went into severe decline. Today, the Gravenstien apple is threatening to make a comeback as cider producers look to save the variety and utilize it in their cider production. Among California’s most prominent cider producers are Ace Cider, Devoto Orchards, Sonoma Cider and Tilted Shed Ciderworks.
Michigan/Great Lakes Region
Michigan is the third largest producer of apples in the nation with more than 39,000 acres devoted to apple orchards. The vast majority of those orchards are cultivated by family farmers with less than 200 acres of apples. Michigan’s prominence in the American cider industry is highlighted by the fact that it is the location for the most important cider competition in the nation: The Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition. Among the important cider producers in Michigan are J K’s Scrumpy Cider and Virtue Cider.