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Lieb Cellar's 'Rumor Mill' is the North Fork winery's first hard cider. (Credit: Paul Squire)
Lieb Cellar’s ‘Rumor Mill’ is the North Fork winery’s first hard cider. (Credit: Paul Squire)

After a winter of planning and taste testing, Lieb Cellars has become the latest East End winery to join the hard cider game.

“Rumor Mill,” a dry sparkling hard cider made using the same method as Lieb’s wines, was released Monday.

“When we are not drinking our awesome wine, we are really into hard cider,” said Lieb Cellars general manager Ami Opisso. “So, it made sense and was the right time to do it.”

The cider is a more playful offering than the vineyard’s wines, she said.

“Cider isn’t about being serious or snobby, it’s about getting together with friends, laughing and having fun, and that’s what we did when coming up with the name, tasting [winemaker] Russell [Hearn’s] samples and designing the label,” said Opisso.

The name was chosen as a way for Lieb to pay tribute to the small-town feel of the North Fork’s villages, said marketing and wine club manager Dana Kowalsick. Each bottle features a series of “rumors,” some chosen from real life, around the bottle.

Each year, the winery plans to update the bottle with the latest gossip, Kowalsick said.

Rumor Mill is made with 10 different types of apples — from granny smith and empire to more exotic varieties like mutsu and elstar— all picked from Briermere Farm in Riverhead, according to the winery.

“Some of the types I hadn’t even heard of,” Kowalsick said.

The cider is pressed at Jericho Cider Mill on Long Island and then fermented and bottled at Lieb Cellars’ production facility by Lieb’s winemaker, Russell Hearn, she said.

More than 580 cases of the hard cider have already been produced, Kowalsick said. So far, she said, the reception to Lieb Cellars’ first cider has been positive.

The winery may begin shipping cases to wholesalers like Empire State Cellars in Riverhead depending on how the cider is received.

A complimentary tasting of the hard cider is available at Lieb’s locations in Mattituck and Cutchogue. Glasses are also available for $6 each, while each 750 ml bottle costs $13 and is available online or in the winery’s tasting rooms.

Lieb Cellars is also planning an official cider release party on Friday, Oct. 3 from 5 to 8 p.m. at their Oregon Road location in Cutchogue. The party will also include food and live music by Swear and Shake.

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