P\u00e9t-nats are undergoing a renaissance in wine circles. This is likely thanks to their drinkability, freshness and embodiment of carefree \u201cglou glou\u201d culture. Though these funky, fizzy and fermented beverages are most often associated with wine, this method of carbonation can also be used to produce other beverages\u2014including ciders.\n\n\n\nThese p\u00e9t-nat ciders, which are made using this natural fermentation process, are also currently on the rise. There\u2019s good reason for the growing attention.\n\n\n\nYou May Also Like: Your P\u00e9t-Nat Primer\n\n\n\n\u201cI have folks come in looking for something that maybe is a little more rustic or hazy\u2026 p\u00e9t-nats can definitely scratch that itch,\u201d says Olivia Maki, co-owner of Redfield Cider Bar & Bottle Shop in Oakland, California. Wines and ciders made using this method, she notes, are prized for their quaffable qualities and expansive food pairing abilities.\n\n\n\nWhile p\u00e9t-nat ciders currently only account for around 10% of her shop\u2019s cider portfolio, they\u2019re slowly acquiring a dedicated following. \u201cIt\u2019s a small but mighty selection,\u201d Maki says. \u201cThey sell really well.\u201d Eleanor Leger, founder and co-owner of Eden Specialty Ciders in Newport, Vermont, agrees, estimating that p\u00e9t-nat ciders make up around 20% of her operation\u2019s bottled cider options.\n\n\n\nHere\u2019s everything you need to know about the growing category, and why cider makers are still having difficulty breaking into the market.\n\n\n\nWhat Is P\u00e9t-Nat?\n\n\n\nTranslated from French as \u201cnaturally sparkling,\u201d p\u00e9tillant naturale (p\u00e9t-nat) is one of three ways to naturally carbonate wines and ciders. Other options include Charmat (the tank method) and m\u00e9thode Champenoise, also known as the Champagne or traditional method.\n\n\n\nP\u00e9t-nats ferment right in their bottles and retain the carbon dioxide emitted during fermentation. These bottlings may or may not be disgorged, which is when bottles are inverted and the residual yeast (known as lees) is expelled to reduce sediment and improve clarity. This is dependent on the maker, but the residual yeast sediment found in many p\u00e9t-nat bottlings can give complexity and body, Maki says.\n\n\n\nYou May Also Like: 10 Pet-Nat Sparklers to Jump Start Your Year\n\n\n\nP\u00e9t-nat ciders are prized for not just the craftsmanship of its maker, but the bottlings\u2019 youthful taste and juiciness. They should be consumed as fresh as possible, ideally with fresh breads and cheeses, charcuterie, raw oysters or a green salad\u2014perhaps served at a picnic or other laid-back gathering. \n\n\n\nIt\u2019s this easy-drinking nature that is making these fizzy beverages increasing popular\u2014they appeal to consumers seeking session-able and rustic beverages at an affordable price point. \u201cP\u00e9t-nat [ciders] can really fit the bill for that,\u201d Maki promises, estimating a general range of $15 to $25 per bottle for a wide variety of good quality options.\n\n\n\nWhy P\u00e9t-Nat Cider Is Hard to Find\n\n\n\nSometimes referred to as m\u00e9thode ancestral (French for \u201cancestral method\u201d), p\u00e9t-nat ciders have yet to catch up to p\u00e9t-nat wines in popularity. This is in large part due to disparate regulations that limit cider producers\u2019 abilities to properly market themselves.\n\n\n\nThe Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees all ciders below 6.9% alcohol-by-volume (abv) but the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) oversees ciders over 7% abv and most wines. According to the TTB, cider is categorized as wine, but cider has much more stringent rules compared to wine.\n\n\n\nFor example, the TTB\u2019s Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) defines the term \u201cp\u00e9tillant\u201d as \u201csparkling light grape wine normally less effervescent than Champagne or other similar sparkling wine.\u201d The TTB\u2019s specific designation of p\u00e9tillant (thus p\u00e9tillant naturale and p\u00e9t-nat) as a grape-based wine leaves apple cider makers scratching their heads.\n\n\n\n\u201cIt\u2019s very easy for wine to use the terminology, and it\u2019s extremely challenging for cider to do so,\u201d says Michelle McGrath, CEO of the American Cider Association (ACA), an advocacy group lobbying on behalf of the cider industry.\n\n\n\nShe notes that some cider makers submit a label certification form called the Certificate of Label Approval/Exemption (COLAs) for permission to include the word p\u00e9t-nat on their labels. However, approval seems to be dispersed arbitrarily, she notes. Others try to find workarounds, using clues like \u201cmade using the ancestral method\u201d or \u201csparkling\u201d on labels to hint at the contents.\n\n\n\nBut for consumers specifically looking for p\u00e9t-nat ciders, the lack of obvious and consistent signage can make their search difficult. That barrier holds cider, and especially p\u00e9t-nat cider, back, says McGrath.\n\n\n\n\u201cHaving the ability to label ciders made with the p\u00e9tillant naturale process would be huge, because p\u00e9t-nats are obviously trending,\u201d she says. \u201cThat consumer base who\u2019s interested in p\u00e9t-nats would definitely be buying p\u00e9t-nat ciders if it was clearly labeled and easy to market\u2026 there's no reason for it to not be open to all wines.\u201d\n\n\n\nDespite cider\u2019s challenges\u2014which the ACA hopes lawmakers will change\u2014plenty of American artisanal cider producers have embraced the p\u00e9t-nat process into their portfolios, even as a small portion of their output.\n\n\n\nGetty Images \n\n\n\nProducers Making P\u00e9t-Nat Ciders\n\n\n\nEve\u2019s Cidery\n\n\n\n\u201cP\u00e9t-nat is unpredictable,\u201d explains Autumn Stoscheck, cider maker and orchardist at Eve\u2019s Cidery in Van Etten, New York. But that\u2019s part of the appeal of her ciders\u2014they\u2019ll never taste quite the same as the year before.\n\n\n\nHer p\u00e9t-nats are \u201cjuicy and gulpable,\u201d and she prioritizes using cider apples \u201cthat are fresh and fruity with soft tannins, and get a lot of charm and character from their aromatics.\u201d While cider can\u2014and should\u2014be enjoyed all year round, she says spring is an especially good season to crack open a bottle. Try their biannual Tydeman\u2019s Early, as a particularly delightful pick.\n\n\n\nSouth Hill Cider\n\n\n\nDon\u2019t look for the label p\u00e9t-nat on South Hill\u2019s labels. This Ithaca, New York-based cider maker relies on the phrase \u201cancestral method\u201d to indicate what\u2019s in each bottle. Even as one of the most respected small cider makers in the U.S., its harvest-driven ciders are some of the most affordable on the market, ranging from $12 to $28 for most 750 ml bottles.\n\n\n\nIn his February 2023 newsletter, owner and cider makes Steve Selin detailed how much time is required to create a great p\u00e9t-nat cider. And though it may take three to six months for the fermentation to finish, these ciders are worth the wait. The 2019 Farmhouse or the 2021 Sunlight Transformed P\u00e9t-Nat are personal favorites.\n\n\n\ndurham cider + wine co.\n\n\n\nOwner and cidermaker Rob Durham doesn\u2019t make typical wines or ciders. His concoctions eschew easy definition and subvert expectations, and p\u00e9t-nat\u2019s inherent tendency towards unpredictability plays perfectly into his ethos.\n\n\n\n\u201cA lot of the techniques that we use aren't very common outside of traditional winemaking, such as long macerations before pressing, [the] p\u00e9t-nat style of carbonation, talking about vintage dates and the use of glass and clay as fermentation vessels,\u201d he says. \u201cAs of 2020, we don't add or take away anything along the way\u2014it's just raw and uncut organically grown fruit that is juiced and fermented naturally.\u201d\n\n\n\nIt\u2019s difficult to gauge how many of his ciders are p\u00e9t-nats\u2014or even true ciders, for that matter. But after tasting \u201cWhat\u2019s Your 20?,\u201d a 2019 p\u00e9t-nat blend made with Newtown Pippin and Ashmead\u2019s Kernel, I have to agree with his assessment that it\u2019s \u201ca straight-up tasty beverage.\u201d\n\n\n\nTilted Shed Ciderworks\n\n\n\nLocated in the heart of Sonoma County, California, Tilted Shed Ciderworks focuses on producing low-intervention, small-batch ciders driven by the terroir of northern California. Its farm produces over 100 varieties of apples and pears, all pressed in season for fresh, but unpredictable, ciders and coferments that reflect the bounty of nature. Tilted Shed\u2019s p\u00e9t-nats include coferments like their plum-apple wine, as well as single-variety ciders like 2022 Pink Pearl, which uses native yeast and locally grown Pink Pearl apples.\n\n\n\nLike Leger and Stoscheck, Tilted Shed co-founder Ellen Cavalli was named "one of seven women moving American cider forward" in 2019, thanks to her work in and out of the orchard. She launched Malus, a quarterly print cider zine, in 2018, and while she stepped down as editor in December 2019, Cavalli continues to proselytize the gospel of cider through Tilted Shed\u2019s products.