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Oregon Cider Week, Art+Science Team Up for Virtual Happy Hour

By Matt Wastradowski

When it launches on June 18, 2020, Oregon Cider Week's virtual celebration will spotlight cider makers from throughout the state-including Sheridan-based Art+Science Cider & Wine. The husband-and-wife team behind Art+Science-Dan Rinke, who ferments everything, and Kim Hamblin, who creates the brand's evocative artwork-have crafted ciders that taste like no other cider you've ever tried. And it might never have happened if Dan Rinke didn't change his college major.

As Rinke tells it, he'd spent much of the mid- to late-1990s working for restaurants and wine shops, and in wine distribution. He'd planned to go to college for winemaking (it seemed like the next logical step) but changed his major to viticulture-grape-growing-which would offer a broader understanding of the industry.

Nevertheless: Rinke received a job offer as an assistant winemaker before graduating-even though he admittedly knew nothing about winemaking.

Most of us would probably pass on a job for which we're not qualified. But Rinke saw the opportunity to learn winemaking away from school-and away from the traditional techniques taught in most fermentation science programs. Rather, he learned to make wine naturally, use indigenous (rather than cultivated) yeast, and worry less about following specific recipes.

That unconventional career path inspired Rinke-along with his wife, Kim Hamblin-to start Art+Science in Sheridan, near the western edge of the Willamette Valley, in 2011. Nearly a decade later, Art+Science produces a variety of complex ciders, perries (cider-like beverages fermented with pears, rather than apples), and wines-along with some cider-wine and perry-wine blends-on its 50-acre farm.

Art+Science Takes Inventive Approach to Cider

The husband-and-wife team behind Art+Science takes pride in crafting a new approach to cider, and that starts long before you've taken your first sip.

For starters, many modern cider makers don't produce dry variations with much “backbone”, as Hamblin calls it, because they use commercial apple juice (in lieu of actual apples) or add other flavorings. But Art+Science leans on Willamette Valley fruits and foraged apples, which have different acids and more tannic flavors, and uses as few additives as possible. (The couple also grows roughly 100 apple varieties on their farm.)

As Hamblin explains it: “Our philosophy is that we want the fruit to taste what it naturally would taste like on its own without putting our imprint on it.” A minimal amount of chemicals are added in the fermentation process, which Hamblin says keeps the duo honest: “Once you start manipulating, it's hard not to keep manipulating,” she says.

And whereas large-scale producers may ferment their cider in as few as 10 days, ciders at Art+Science ferment for at least one month-and one cider has been fermenting for six months (and counting). Hamblin says the cooler, slower fermentation period captures more aromatics that might blow off in a warmer, faster fermentation.

Cool Climate an Unlikely Ally

Part of what makes Art+Science's ciders so sought after is Rinke's relentless creativity and desire to do things differently. Yet Art+Science owes another bit of success to its unique location within the Willamette Valley; it's not a stretch to say that Art+Science's ciders would taste completely different if Rinke and Hamblin had set up shop in Amity, 13 miles east, or even nearby Willamina-just 2.5 miles west.

That's because Art+Science sits in what's called the Van Duzer Corridor, an opening in the western Coast Range foothills that funnels cool ocean air into the Willamette Valley. Hamblin says the Art+Science farm sits right on the edge of where that marine layer stops, creating an almost ideal climate for growing crops and fermenting wine and cider; it's never too warm, rarely too cool, and receives just enough rainfall to keep crops healthy.

Art+Science Readies an Open-air Taproom

Soon, visitors will be able to experience that unusual climate when Art+Science opens its tasting room to the public.

Hamblin and Rinke hope to open a taproom by July-and, true to form, want to give visitors a one-of-a-kind atmosphere for enjoying their cider, perry, and wine.

Hamblin describes the eventual setup as a walk-up window-where visitors can order-surrounded by shaded outdoor seating and the couple's farm. She hopes the open-air atmosphere gives visitors the space to learn about Art+Science's offbeat offerings. “It's a way to talk to people and help them learn about our styles and processes,” she says. “It's a fruit-forward kind of beverage, and it can sometimes take a little bit of guidance to learn about it, versus finding your favorite sugary sweet cider on tap. It'll be nice to have those conversations and have a place to do it.”

Art+Science Hosts Tasting, Discussion as Part of Oregon Cider Week

Even if they can't welcome visitors to their all-new taproom or toast fans face-to-face at festivals throughout the region this year, Hamblin and Rinkle are finding ways to remain top of mind.

As part of Oregon Cider Week, coming up June 18-28, 2020, Art+Science will host a virtual “happy hour” tasting and discussion. The interactive event itself is free (and happening on June 18), but those wanting to join should purchase the featured drinks ahead of time through the Art+Science website to taste alongside Hamblin and Rinke; the three-pack runs $54 and includes 750ml bottles of Humble Perry (a dessert pear blend), Mutualism (a blend, not yet released, of Sauvignon Blanc and perry), and BirdBrain Perry (a traditional perry-as-yet unreleased-made with pears plucked from two trees in the Willamette Valley).

Hamblin says the event gives Art+Science the chance to connect with devoted drinkers and curious onlookers away from crowded festivals, where it can be tough to tell the Art+Science story. “It's a different level of intimacy,” she says.

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