Bonny Doon Vineyard, ¿Querry? hard sparkling cider

Bonny Doon Vineyard Querry

One of the first things that European immigrants did when they settled in North America was to plant apple trees, just so that they could make cider. During colonial times, the beverage now known as “hard cider” (cider containing alcohol) was consumed with every meal.

Alas, cider production, like all alcoholic beverages in the U.S., would come to a screeching halt during Prohibition. And the journey back has been a long and arduous one.

Fortunately, the cider industry has seen a boisterous resurgence in the last decade. Pioneers like Farnum Hill Ciders have been joined by newcomers like Argus Ciders and Tandem Ciders, to name but two, gaining great acclaim from consumers and press alike.

These days even winemakers are getting into the act. Take Randall Grahm, from the illustrious Bonny Doon Vineyard. In 2010 Grahm decided to try his expert-hand at making a hard sparkling cider. Of course, being extraordinarily creative, Grahm didn’t want to make cider with apples alone – he threw pears and quince in the mix too.

But the first vintage presented Grahm with more than his fair share of challenges. Sourcing local fruits that would be appropriate for cider-making was hard enough, but pressing the fruits proved to be a stumbling block. Bartlett pears, which Grahm wanted in the mix for their “musky aromatics,” are too soft to be pressed. “No one would touch Bartletts with a barge-pole, as the mushy mash fouls the screens of the press,” lamented Grahm. “The way around was to co-press the Bartletts with apples and quince that have more structure. But it was hard to find apples that ripened at the right time, coincidentally with the pears. So, the whole process was a bit like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, perhaps with a crowbar.”

The challenges came to a head during the second fermentation, when cider bottles started to explode. The entire production had to be decanted and re-bottled. That “little cider-maker error on my part,” as Grahm called it, cost him half his production.

But in the end, the “epic effort” involved in that first vintage was well worth the undertaking: the 2010 Querry turned out to be an utterly delightful, deliciously addictive sparkling cider. (And the 2011 vintage of Querry is, by all accounts, going smoothly – no exploding bottles in the winery this year!)

Bonny Doon Vineyard, ¿Querry? hard sparkling cider

Bonny Doon Vineyard, ¿Querry? hard sparkling cider

Producer: Bonny Doon Vineyard

Region: CA

Ingredients: 51% Apples, 40% Pears, 9% Quince

Alc: 7%

Price: $16

Serving: Chilled

Pouring Querry in Champagne flutes requires a little patience, unless of course you want the foam to rise and cascade down your glass. But once the lively foam subsides, the aromas of fresh-cut fall fruits instantly fill your nostrils.

At first sip, the assertive-yet-fine bubbles tickle your mouth playfully – so deliciously that you smile. Bone-dry, with lively acidity, the Querry bursts with the flavors of pear skins, zesty Granny Smith apples, tart quince and hints of herbs and citrus. Grahm describes it as “not unlike a Riesling Kabinett trocken, although lighter and more ephemeral.”

I must say this cider makes your mouth salivate while the flavors linger. You’re already looking forward to the next sip.

And what might you serve with Querry? “Excellent with charcuterie, Asian food, seafood, and poultry—fare as humble as meat pie or as elegant as lobster” are the suggestions on the Bonny Doon Vineyard’s website.

But it’s also perfect with finger foods – like these potato latkes with apple confit and crispy sage. The apple-pear-quince flavors of the cider harmonize with the apple confit, while the Querry’s acidity cuts through the richness of the latkes. Superb, and indeed, quite addictive.

Potato latkes with apple confit and crispy sage


  1. Thanks to all who made a comment on the cider, and of course, heartfelt thanks to V. for the lovely blog on our product. At times, I feel slightly disloyal to the ranks of winemakers for my flirtation w/ other fruit-based alcoholic products, but at the same time, I must confess to a greater allegiance to diversity and originality. (Far, far too many vyds. along the 101 corridor, to be sure.) There is nothing as stately as a proper apple or pear orchard; the trees bespeak an enormous positive belief in the future. I would most like to see plantations of heirloom varieties, oddball varieties for cider and eaux-de-vie, funky, russeted fruit, far too ugly for the grocer’s bin, but unspeakably delicious and fragrant.

    • Dear Randall, Thank you for your most wonderful comment. I’m very honored! I love your vision for the future. Thanks to you and other cider-makers, heirloom orchards are being planted all over the U.S. And of course, thank you for your endless efforts and creativity – I’m so grateful for it all.

  2. Rochelle Katzman

    Hello Viviane
    Just got back from the weekend, and even though New Year’s eve is over, great cooking and exciting drinks last forever. Cannot wait to try the hard Sparking Cider (which, I never knew came from Bonny Doon) and the fantastic raspberrry champagne desserts. Planning my dinner party as we speak
    Hope your new years was fantastic.
    Rochelle from MadHattan

    • Hi Rochelle! Thank you so much for your wonderful note… How did your dinner turn out? I’m sure it was fabulous and “bubbly”… I cannot say enough abou all the wonderful ciders being made in the U.S. these days. Wishing you a happy, healthy, abundant… and delicious New Year! PS: Love the “MadHattan” – will have to borrow that one 🙂

  3. Oh Viviane this sounds like a wonderful cider with this mix of fruits. Glad he stuck it out till he got perfection. Thank you for the condolences you sent me. I want to wish you a wonderful New Year for 2012 filled with health, loved ones and success in your endeavors.

    • Hi Evelyne, Randall Grahm is not one to give up… Thank goodness for us all!

      Thank you for your warm wishes. I wish you in turn a beautiful, exciting, abundant and delicious New Year… My thoughts remain with you.

  4. I didn’t know Bonny Doon made a sparkling cider! I love its wines, so I’m going to have to look for this cider. Hope you’re having the start of a wonderful New Year!

    • Thank you so much MJ… I hope you get to try this cider – it is very, very good! Hope your New Year is off to a good start too. Warm wishes to you for a sensational 2012!

  5. I love cider with cheese pairings as well. Happy New Year!

  6. Happy New Year Viviane!
    Love that cider label.

    • Happy New Year Angie! I hope you had a wonderful celebration… and knowing you, it must have been a delicious one to boot! The label was designed by a very talented artist, Meg Maker, who also happens to be the marketing director for Bonny Doon Vineyard. I think it should be framed!

  7. I traveled to Norway recently and tasted some good hard ciders. So I was so pleased to find this version from Bonny Doon as well. We discussed it on our podcast The Table Set which is on the Homefries Podcast Network if you feel like searching it out! Thanks GREG

  8. Happy New Year Viviane & Marc! Thank you Viviane for the delicious recipes. We will really enjoy them!!! 🙂

  9. I just stopped by to wish you great New Year, full of health, happiness and success!!! by the way this post is lovely!!!

  10. Pingback: Potato latkes with apple confit and crispy sage — food & style

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