It’s always a nice surprise when I run into a new company on Martha’s Vineyard, often through a random encounter on social media. This little Island is packed to the brim with movers and shakers, and makers and bakers, countless individuals filled with creativity, passion, and love for whatever their brand or product is all about. About a month or so ago, during a late-night Instagram scroll I discovered the Martha’s Vineyard Cider Co. (@MVCiderCo on Instagram, and at mvciderco.com). This nautically inspired hard cider company is the first and only one of its kind on the Vineyard. As its Instagram profile boasts, “Hard cider crafted on Martha’s Vineyard. Island born, nautically bred. Best enjoyed from a dock, deck, boat or backyard.”
Born and raised on-Island, owner Rob Hale never thought his passion would be cider until it was. After a stint in Atlanta for college and later years working in Boston, a city that lived and breathed technology startup companies, Rob began researching the beverage market only to find that hard cider was in the top three fastest-growing alcoholic markets. With this information, he decided to create his own startup, and thirsty for a community-based company with Island ties, he launched Martha’s Vineyard Cider Co.
While Rob grew up, and to this day, Rob’s family owns the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard, thus the nautical inspiration for the brand and his hardworking persona. In speaking with him about his product, his motivation and passion are overwhelming. I learned that M.V. Cider Co.’s first cider, Hard A Lee, is named after a little wooden boat that’s been in his family for 90 years. For Rob, creating this cider has been a journey of balance, acidity, tannins, and sugars. Everything from the fermentation, bottling, labeling, and distributing is done on-Island, with the main ingredient (apples) being sourced only from Eastern Massachusetts farms that Rob has personally researched. An understanding and passion for local ingredients drives his product.
Rob spent one and a half years researching what makes a great cider, and in doing so tasted more than 250 styles of cider. He believed that a great cider could be a key component to the fabric of Island life, and he now offers it at local favorites including State Road and Beach Road restaurants, both with a farm-to-table focus that Rob admires; the Barn, Bowl & Bistro, for its community building with year-round leagues; and 20ByNine gastropub, a pioneer in the craft beverage movement here. For now, those are the places you can sip on this cider, with more to come.
For a way to enjoy the bright, balanced, apple flavors of cider at home, enjoy this Hard Cider Quick Bread recipe, inspired by Rob and the Martha’s Vineyard Cider Co.
Hard Cider Quick Bread
Makes one loaf
1 cup bread flour
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. Baking powder
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
½ cup vegetable oil
12 ounces hard cider
Preheat the oven to 350℉ and grease a loaf pan. Whisk together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the cider to the dry ingredients, and drizzle in the oil, just to incorporate. Pour batter into loaf pan, and bake for about 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown.