Tastemaker: David Biun, Eden Specialty Ciders

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You can’t get much further north — and still be in Vermont — than Eden Specialty Ciders, located in Newport, Vermont. Even with what may seem like a remote location, Eden is making its mark in the fine cider industry with a varied and universally delicious portfolio that includes everything from brisk dry ciders (sparkling and still) to rich, unctuous ice cider to stunningly savory aperitif ciders — which I was a bit obsessed with over the summer.

I have yet to meet cidermaker David Biun, but after tasting through all of his creations during TasteCamp 2016: Vermont, he put himself on my radar. Turns out that he started his career fermenting fruit juice at Long Point Winery in the Finger Lakes before moving into the cider industry and eventually finding his way to the Northeast Kingdom.

This week, get to learn a bit more about David Biun, a true tastemaker.

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Location: Newport, Vermont

Current Job: Cidermaker at Eden Specialty Ciders

Wine/Cider/Beer of the Moment: Batholith by Terra Blanca, Merlot/Cab/Syrah blend from the Red Mountain AVA in Washington. We found it on a recent family trip to the Columbia Gorge.

My cidermaking Style in 1-5 words: Unique Expressions of Extraordinary Apples

First bottle of cider I remember drinking: Coopersmith’s Pub and Brewery’s Scrumpy Cider in Fort Collins, Colorado. I ordered it “because it’s there” to quote George Mallory. That experience, though, is what inspired me to make my first batch of cider at home.

How I got here: I started in the industry at Long Point Winery in the Finger Lakes where an internship turned into an opportunity as Vineyard Manager. I continued to make cider at home while making wine professionally.

Eventually, I took a position as Head Cidermaker at 1911 Established Hard Cider. While working there, my wife and I judged at the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition where Eden Specialty Cider’s Sparkling Semi-Dry took Best in Show. When I found out Eden was looking for a new cidermaker I didn’t hesitate to pick up and move to Vermont.

My cidermaking style — in more words: I believe in minimal intervention to achieve optimum deliciousness. It sounds a bit cliché, but I do my best to get out of the way and let the yeast, apples and terroir express themselves. I’ll lend a helping hand as needed.

Mentors: My primary winemaking influence is Gary Barletta at Long Point Winery. He gave me my break in the industry, taught me about good winemaking practice, and exemplified striving for the best possible result regardless of the cost. I’ll never forget what he told me about blending wines: “If you blend a mediocre wine with a good wine, you’ll just end up with a bunch of mediocre wine.”

I also need to thank/blame Dan Eddy. He taught a wine appreciation class at the University of Florida which left such an impression on me that the world of fermentation sucked me in and hasn’t let go.

Music playing in the cellar right now: The mix in the cellar is different every day but there is always something playing: folk, hip-hop, rock, metal, bluegrass, jazz, classical, funk, pop, indie, electronica. Spotify keeps me listening to new tunes. Life is too short to listen to the same things all the time.

Favorite thing about the cider industry: The cider industry’s young age counterpointed by its deep heritage, especially here in New England. Cider has deep roots in America, but was almost forgotten. Right now we, as producers, are shaping the direction of its renaissance.

Least favorite thing about the cider industry: The cider industry’s young age counterpointed by its deep heritage, especially here in New England. As an industry, we are still trying to establish an identity distinct from fine wine and craft beer while simultaneously carving out space in the existing markets. This leads to some of our most frustrating moments but also provides some amazing opportunities.

One surprising thing that I’m really good at: Jazz Drumset and Orchestral Percussion. I actually originally went to school for Music.

What I drink: Fine wines, craft beers, artisanal ciders and spirits. If it tastes good I’m game.

My “Desert Island Meal” — wine/cider/beer included: I could never get tired of Chicago-style pizza (Go Cubs!) paired with a nice red wine. Not the most inventive combination, I know, but the classics never go out of style!

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About Author

Lenn Thompson, a proud Pittsburgh, PA native, moved to Long Island more than a decade ago and quickly fell in love with the region’s dynamic and emerging wine community. A digital and content marketing and community professional by day, he founded NewYorkCorkReport.com in early 2004 to share his passion for the wines, beers and spirits of New York State. Since then, the site has become the premier source for independent New York wine commentary, reviews and news. Formerly the editor of the Long Island Wine Gazette, a contributor to Edible Brooklyn, wine columnist for Hamptons.com and regional editor for Appellation America covering the Long Island and Hudson River Valley regions, Lenn contributes to Edible East End, Palate Press, Patch and is the wine columnist for Dan’s Papers in the Hamptons. Lenn is also on the board of directors for Drink Local Wine, and is the creator and founder of TasteCamp, a yearly regional wine immersion event for writers and bloggers. An admitted riesling and cabernet franc fanatic, he’s intensely passionate about eating drinking local and the many local wine regions of America. Lenn lives in Miller Place, NY with his wife Nena, son Jackson, daughter Anna and their dog, Casey Lemieux Thompson.

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