Published Mar 28, 2019

Benji Deal, Paul Rasch & Deirdre Birmingham – Hard Cider Production & Management

By Practical Farmers of Iowa

Three different Iowa hard cider producers share an overview of how they approach hard cider production, from apple varieties and orchard management to blending. A panel discussion and hard cider tasting follows.

Benji Deal is part of Deal’s Orchard, which first began planting apple trees in 1917 and continues to operate as a family farm today. The Deal family grows 25 varieties of apples plus a range of other fruits and vegetables, and produces value-added apple products. As part of the fourth generation, Benji Deal began producing hard cider in 2011; it can now be found in stores throughout the Des Moines area.

Paul Rasch and Sara Goering took ownership of Wilson’s Orchard north of Iowa City in 2009. Wilson’s Orchard was established in 1980 and operates as a U-pick with over 120 varieties to choose from. Paul began crafting hard cider in September 2015 and produces seven styles of hard cider that can be found across the state.

Deirdre Birmingham and her husband, John Biondi, launched The Cider Farm in southwest Wisconsin in 2003. With a focus on European cider and brandy traditions, they’ve hand-grafted the unique apple varieties found in their orchard and manage them organically. Their ciders and brandies can be found across Wisconsin and Illinois.