BOISE, Idaho — Talk to Molly Leadbetter and she'll be hard-pressed to pick her favorite cider. They're all the apple of her eye.
"It's like picking a favorite child," she joked.
Leadbetter is the co-owner of Meriwether Cider Company.
She says 2020 kept her up at night, wondering how her beloved business would fare.
"We had to transition. I put together an online store in a day," she said, "We were just in chaos. I was so worried and I was not sleeping [thinking], 'Can we keep our employees, what’s going to happen?'"
Meriwether kept all their employees, selling bottles in-house, online, even on the road locally.
"We’re doing free deliveries in our delivery van," she said.
Now, nearing post-pandemic, the cidery is open and you're invited to stop by for a pint.
Meriwether is part of the Idaho Wine Commission since cider is technically wine, using fermented apples instead of fermented grapes. A beverage must be 51% apple to be considered a cider.
Then, there are the added flavors.
"Hops into it or add blackberry or ginger. Really the sky's the limit. If you can think of a flavor, we can pretty much make it a cider," she said.
Some say cider is the missing link between wine and beer, and on a hot summer's day, Meriwether will even serve you a cider-slushy!
"We’re gonna have slushies everywhere because slushies are the best," she said.
Molly says they get more than 5,500 gallons of juice at a time, then it goes into giant fermenters. Yeast is added and then clarified. It takes 27 to 30 days to make a base cider, then a few more if you add flavors like blackberries, guava, or peach.
Leadbetter says cider hasn't taken off in Idaho quite as fast as places like Washington, Oregon, or Colorado, but she's ready to win over hearts and minds - one pour at a time.
Not a cider fan? Molly won't take no for an answer.
"I always tell people that say they don't like cider, 'No, you just haven't had a cider you like yet.'"