Cider Flows from Palisade

All photos this story:  Tyler Logan

All photos this story: Tyler Logan

You’ve got your Cider Winder, your Forbidden Fruits, and your Scrappy Apple, among a dozen or so other options.

We’re talking hard cider, of course. And it’s becoming much easier to find, thanks to three Palisade wineries that have expanded by recently adding cideries to their offerings. Say hello to Talbott’s Cider Company, 13° Brix Cider Bistro, and Red Fox Cellars.

“The cider business has been exploding the past four years or so,” says Andy West, the 28-year-old cider maker at 13° Brix, whose family also owns Varaison Vineyards. “It’s like what we saw in craft beers 20 years ago.”

Certainly, cider is not new, but its rebirth has seen the number of cideries in the United States double to approximately 800 over the past three years, according to Michelle McGrath, the executive director of the United States Association of Cider Makers. McGrath says there are about 20 cideries in Colorado, with three of them right in our backyard.

“Cider sales were over $1.3 billion last year,” says McGrath, “a number that’s almost five times the total sales of 2011.”

Here’s the lowdown on cider: Take sweet apple juice and yeast, ferment them, and voila! Of course it’s a bit more complicated, but these folks have turned cider making into a popular and profitable enterprise. Usually less alcoholic than wine and less filling than beer, cider comes in bottles, cans, and growlers. And there’s much more than just hard apple cider, including peach (of course) and pear, among others.

Talbott’s Cider Company is run by Charles Talbott and cider maker Christopher Leader. The Talbott name has been around the Western Slope for generations, and Talbott Farms actually built a cider mill in 1983.

“A few years ago, the family allowed us young bloods to give cider a shot,’’ says Leader, who hails from Massachusetts, a cider-happy state dating back to colonial America. “We’ve had quite a jump in sales since we started,” he notes, adding that their first cider became available in September 2015.

Red Fox owners Scott and Sherrie Hamilton moved here from Denver a few years ago planning to open a winery. “There were terrible winters in 2012 and 2013, and the vineyards froze,” Scott Hamilton says. “No grapes, but we had plenty of apples — and we’ve never looked back.”

All three cideries have tasting rooms in Palisade. In March, 13° Brix plans to open a bistro to complement its ciders at its current location, and Talbott’s has plans for a new tasting room in 2018 near its present location. 

Talbotts Cider Palisade.jpg

A Cider Sampling for Your Future Visit

• CIDER WINDER from Red Fox Cellars: Unfiltered, with bold flavors of green apple and aromas of honey and pineapple; a bright, clean finish allows flavor to linger. It’s got a shot of bubbly to it, also.

• FORBIDDEN FRUIT from 13° Brix: Apple juice with champagne yeast, finished in American oak to produce a soft mouthfeel with a vanilla note. An infusion of Saigon cinnamon is added during fermentation.

• SCRAPPY APPLE from Talbott’s: Dry cider for those of us who order a drink and think, Hmmm ... next time, less sugar. A cider so dry it tastes similar to dry white wines.

Scott and Sherrie Hamilton, owners of Red Fox Cellars

Scott and Sherrie Hamilton, owners of Red Fox Cellars


• 13° Brix Cider Bistro  130 W. Third Street, Palisade, CO / 970.464.2073 / on Facebook; and

• Red Fox Cellars  695 36 Road, Palisade, CO / 970.464.1099 /

• Talbott’s Cider Company  3782 F¼ Road, Palisade, CO / 970.464.5656

• United States Association of Cider Makers

• Rocky Mountain Cider Association