Fall in Nebraska often means an apple-picking trip to the apple orchard. More and more orchards in this state are starting to offer some additional products, namely hard ciders or apple wines. Read on to find out where some of Nebraska’s best ciders and apple wines are available!
What is hard apple cider?
Apple cider is simply fermented apples. Like beer and wines, hard apple cider is alcoholic and has many varieties. You can go hoppy (for the beer lovers out there), and have a taste and texture similar to beers.
Apple cider can also be aged. which can add a layer of complexity to the cider, much as it happens when wine is aged.
Is hard apple cider the same thing as apple wine?
No. Not really.
It turns out, apple wine and hard apple cider are not the same thing. While both require fermentation of fruit to make alcohol, wine requires more sugar. Most likely, there is either sugar added to make it sweeter or the apples were picked later. You can read more about the difference in a very detailed post here.
Where to buy Nebraska-made cider
Arbor Day Farm
Where: Tastings are available at Apple House Market (currently located inside the Tree Adventure building) and inside the Lied Lodge Gift Shop.
The draw: Arbor Day Farm IS apples. You go to Arbor Day Farm to pick apples, right? And get apple pie a la mode, right? So, of course there has to be some sort of alcoholic apple tasting there.
You can sip a variety of apple wines, including Honeycrisp, Apple Pie, the standard Apple, and Pommeau (made courtesy of Saro Cider and Whiskey Run Creek).
Glacier Till Cider House & Tasting Room
Where: 1419 Silver St., Ashland
The draw: This is the one that started the cider obsession for me. Glacier Till makes the best ciders I’ve had, plus their tasting room makes you want to linger all day.
A word of warning though: They make a variety of flavors. But some are better than others. I love the passionfruit one, but oh my, the lavender honey is not as good as it sounds.
Kimmel Orchard & Vineyard
Where: 5995 G Road, Nebraska City
The draw: Nebraska City has become synonymous with apples, so it’s no surprise that one of the largest orchards makes some hard drinks with apples. Kimmel sells two types of apples wines. The Apple Pie Wine is a sweet dessert option and the Apple Wine is more of a semi-sweet drink.
They also supply the apples for many of the vineyards and ciders on this list.
Mac’s Creek Winery & Vineyard
Where: 43315 Road 757, Lexington
The draw: Mac’s Creek operates under a sustainable model of crafting wine, beer and cider. Their cider, Crabby Abbey, uses apples sourced from Arbor Day Farms in Nebraska City.
You can rent an outdoor fire ring to relax with friends and good drinks.
Papa Moon Vineyards, Winery & Cider House
Where: 230975 County Road J, Scottsbluff
The draw: Papa Moon has been in business for 10 years, and they have eight types of hard ciders. There’s even the uniquely flavored jalapeño hard cider.
Where: 1746 N St., Lincoln
The draw: I’m a traditionalist so I really like SARO’s Milestone Original. That said, they have some creative flavors I’d be willing to taste, as well as some cider cocktails.
Their tasting room offers some light eats.
Vala’s Pumpkin Patch & Apple Orchard
Where: 12102 S. 180th St., Gretna
The draw: Vala’s is what I like to call the Disney of pumpkin patches. It’s an all-day experience with activities, shows, food and, now, drinks. They started an orchard a few years ago and the fruits of their labor debuted in 2020 – hard apple cider.
Cellar 426 Winery
Where: 1402 S. Ninth St., Ashland
The draw: Cellar 426 is first and foremost a winery, with a large variety of reds and whites. I first sampled their cider in 2020 during when I purchased a six-pack to bring home. The draw of this winery, in my opinion, is the view.