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CARMEL VALLEY, Calif. — Winemaker Josh Ruiz insists he began bottling hard cider out of necessity. So naturally, he believes it’s necessary that we drink it.

The longtime owner and vintner at Twisted Roots Wine has branched out (literally) into fermented apples, culminating in the birth of Twisted Roots Hard Cider.

Ruiz and his wife Julie sensed a growing market for a light, crisp, easy-drinking cider — once a favored beverage in colonial America until Prohibition destroyed the industry. Hard cider has exploded in growth in the U.S. over the past few years, buoyed by an adventurous, health-conscious younger set, and the fact that cider (unlike beer) is gluten-free.

The couple spent time researching the cider culture in England, and found that it varied greatly depending on the region, the weather and the fruit, just like wine.

They wanted to create the antithesis of a typical American cider that is often over-carbonated and sweet — something Ruiz called “candy apple ciders.”

“People were ready for something else, especially those who love our wines.”

So they created Twisted Roots Hard Cider, a light, crisp beverage that is low in sugar and carbs — “something clean, simple and refreshing.”

Twisted Roots uses a combination of five fresh apple varieties, each of which add unique elements to the finished product:

Golden Russets enhance the bouquet and aromatics, and contribute complexity and fruit flavor Granny Smiths add tannic structure and tartness, adding to the mouthfeel Galas help deliver a clean, refreshing finish Fuji’s lend just the right amount of sweetness Red Delicious bring rich mouth-feel and a distinctly apple aromatic quality Twisted Roots Hard Cider has 6 percent alcohol, and a 22-ounce serving contains only 140 calories. For Ruiz, the beauty of making a hard cider without high amounts of sugar and carbohydrates?

You can drink more of it!

Tastings of Twisted Roots Hard Cider are available at the wine tasting room in Carmel Valley, 12 Del Fino Place. For information or to purchase bottles online, visit www.twistedrootshardcider.com or call 594-8282.

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