Home Read Wine In Tami Time: Everything I Know About Cider I Learned From Dave

Wine In Tami Time: Everything I Know About Cider I Learned From Dave

Wine In Tami Time: Everything I Know About Cider I Learned From Dave

No matter how brief the interaction, I learn something about cider every time I talk to Dave Carr, founder of Raging Cider and Mead. He is so knowledgeable, has friends all over the country from the cider world, and it always feels like he’s just excited to share. A different person would come off as a know-it-all or a name-dropper. Not this guy, ever. Marked by intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm, Dave is making a serious impression on San Diego on a few fronts.

Dave’s cider journey began in England, his parents’ homeland. Dave grew up here in San Diego, but the family visited England frequently. On one of those visits when he was 13, he discovered cider. He started making cider when his wife Kerry developed an intolerance for gluten. She convinced him to produce commercially and they opened Raging Cider and Mead in 2015. The cidery and tasting room occupy a space in front of Crown Steel Manufacturing, which Dave happens to own.

Through the course of his day job, Dave and his crew fabricate custom fixtures, mostly for restaurants. Past clients include Juniper and Ivy, Callie, and Green Acre. Recent work includes the decorative metal at Seneca and the central beer tower at Neighborhood. These days, they are working on the remodel of The LaFayette. Dave even holds a patent on a refrigerated cold rail used in open-top cold cases, like those found in delis. And of course, they make cool stuff for their own tasting room.

As their need to access apples grew and dovetailed with the desire to learn how they grow, the Carr family started tending and planting orchards, mostly in eastern San Diego County at higher elevations. The Guatay orchard is the nexus of Raging Cider’s network. When they started, there were 200 trees, but now there are over 700. Many of the original trees were dessert apples so they are grafting many of those over to cider apples. The Carrs love foraging and have discovered an array of wild fruit that they are grafting onto trees to eventually create true indigenous San Diego beverages. Last year was supposed to be the first big harvest at Guatay, but freezes knocked out most of the fruit. 

Side note for dirt nerds: the decomposed granite prevalent throughout San Diego County matches that found in Northern Spain, which has an ancient cider tradition.

All Raging products are made with 100% San Diego County fruit and honey, with native fermentation, and zero alterations or additions. Dave’s interest in co-fermentation has led him to branch out and make Season Recap, an apple/Viognier sparkling pet-nat (my favorite!), a piquette from Malvasia, and a kaleidoscope of interesting and delicious beverages.

Dave and Kerry have belonged to the wine club of Triple B Ranches in Valley Center for years and love their Cinsaut. When Raging Cellars was ready to make their first 100% grape wine, they bought the 2020 Cinsaut from Triple B. He’s still figuring his way around working with grapes, but techniques like bâtonnage and carbonic maceration learned from grape winemaking have added to Dave’s tool belt and improved his other products. If the inaugural release of the 2020 Cinsaut is any indication, we are in for some super cool wines.

Dave cites the punk rock of his youth for his tendency to think outside the box. Channeling an attitude of “F U, I do what I want” emboldens him to experiment and take chances. Someone told him that it was impossible to grow apples in Valley Center, so he did it anyway. Not every variety has worked out, but there is a 20-year-old orchard on the Carr property. Pink Pearl, Hyslop Crabapple, Roxbury Russet, and Kerr Crabapple are just a few of the varieties that do indeed thrive in Valley Center.

The bright future forged by Raging Cider bodes well for cider in San Diego in general. Dave seeks new fruit and new orchards and to continue to always improve, and, of course, expand his customer base. So, go visit the tasting room, learn something new, and taste the future of cider in San Diego.