Courtesy of Ashanta

“Co-ferments” are a tasty trend in drinks. Made by fermenting grapes and other fruit in the same vat, these wines and ciders bring the harvest right to your glass.

Kristin Scharkey  – October 11, 2021

Co-ferments: Heard of them? If you haven’t already, consider this a heads-up. You may start seeing more of these wines and ciders on the shelves of your neighborhood bottle shop. It’s a beverage trend on the rise—due in part to the changing climate—and one that we can get behind because it brings the taste of autumn right to your glass.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let us first explain what co-fermentation actually means. Essentially, it is when a winemaker chooses to ferment two different grape varieties together—or to combine grapes with other types of fruit. In this case, an increasing number of winemakers are choosing to co-ferment grapes with apples, pears, and the like.

As wildfires worsen and continue to plague the West, this approach could be a way forward in the face of burned vineyards as well as smoke taint, a negative flavor that occurs when grapes are exposed to wildfire smoke.

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“Apples and pears are incredibly hardy,” says Vinca Minor winemaker Jason Edward Charles, who recently launched a new project Moonland focused on hybrid fermentations. “They can be cold-storaged and then accessed later in the year.”

Charles, who operates an urban tasting room in the city of Berkeley, is currently pairing apples, pears, and grapes from older orchards in Northern California. In a cider rosé , for example, the winemaker combined organic Carignan from Hawkeye Ranch in Mendocino with biodynamic apples from Filigreen Farms in Anderson Valley.

In fact, Hawkeye Ranch owner Pete Johnson plants pears right next to the grapes that grow on the property, ranging from Chardonnay to Carignan and Zinfandel, Charles says. “The plan for this year is to ferment the pears and Carignan together to start the discussion of terroir,” the winemaker adds.

We’re all about this co-mingling of fruity flavors, which often create a terribly interesting sip. Co-ferments can range from super juicy to oddly punchy, depending on the winemaker’s approach. Also in California, Mikey Giugni has long paired apples with grapes for Scar of the Sea ciders, which are as refreshing as they are crisp. Meanwhile, Ashanta winemaking duo Chenoa Ashton-Lewis and Will Basanta produce a wild elderberry and French Colombard pét-nat.

Ready to sip your way through the style? Try these three co-ferments first to get acquainted with this trendy beverage in the West.

Co-Ferments to Try


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