Short answer: We make our ciders in the English tradition, which produce a beverage with a maximum alcohol by volume (ABV) of 7-8%. This is slightly stronger than beer.
Long answer: Alcohol content is determined by how much sugar is in the fruit before crushing or pressing. The yeast used during fermentation consumes the sugars and output alcohol. This means that fruits with higher sugar content will produce a stronger beverage. Grapes will naturally ferment to between 10-16% ABV, depending on the variety of grape. Apples only contain enough natural sugar to ferment 7-8% ABV. The English tradition of making cider is simply to ferment the juice until the sugars are all consumed. Colonial ciders were an improvised version of this process, and were often fermented in old whiskey barrels with molasses and raisins. These additions increased the overall sugar content and produced a stronger end-product. In New England, “hard cider” is usually thought of as this style of fermentation, and is a much stronger product.
Okay, so how do you make apple wine?
We add sugar to the juice during the fermentation process, mimicking the higher sugar content of a grape. This creates a stronger, but drier, end-product.