Photo: South Hill Cider
Feel that glorious chill in the air? It’s autumn in New York State and time to fall into a cozy sweater, peep the changing leaves, and sip the mellow fizz of ripened apples. We’re talking about crispy, refreshing, locally produced hard cider.
In addition to thriving craft beer and wine industries, New York State boasts a flourishing small-batch cider producing culture and it’s not at all surprising, between the abundance of orchards and makers pouring their hearts and well-honed skills into one-of-a-kind micro-cideries. A New York cider makes for a tasty, must-have refreshment this season.
While many consider hard cider a sweet and sparkly gluten-free cousin of craft beer, it is much more than just that. Folks have been fermenting apples all over the world for centuries, dating back to the early Romans. These days, “heritage cider,” as it’s referred to, is made with techniques similar to wine-making, using specific heirloom apples. As you dive into tasting and learning, you’ll find different ciders are nuanced and varied, defined by region, weather, tradition, and modern penchants. There’s an abundance of cider across New York, and this colorful season passes fast, so let’s get sipping.
Photo: Westwind Orchard
A day at Westwind Orchard in Accord is a day well spent, and includes the opportunity to taste their small-batch cider. Using true cider apples from their orchard in the Shawangunk Mountains, Westwind produces six different styles of cider: Classic, Raspberry, Goldrush, Kingston Black, Russety Russet, and Wild Wild East Reserve. Their tasting room and kitchen are open seasonally, where they also serve Italian style tapas and woodfired pizza. There’s no shortage of other activities at the orchard; you can pick your own fruits and vegetables or catch live music or a movie night. Westwind hosts outdoor events into October.
215 Lower Whitfield Road, Accord, NY | (845) 626 - 0659
Based in the Finger Lakes Region, South Hill Cider uses apples from wild trees, abandoned orchards near Lake Ontario, and their own farm orchards. Cidermaker Steve Selin, also a musician, has been bottling since 2003. South Hill features still and sparkling ciders, and ships all over the US. If you’re not quite sure what you like, their website explains with in-depth tasting notes and details. You can find South Hill by the bottle at markets or in a glass at different eateries all around New York.
550 Sandbank Road, Ithaca, NY | (607) 272 - 9862
Photo: Metal House Cidery
Located in the town of Esopus in Ulster County, Metal House believes that good cider takes time. Apples are sourced from orchards in the Hudson Valley. After pressing on a handmade rack-and-cloth press, their ciders enjoy a horizontal rest of at least six months, a slow second fermentation. You can find Metal House at a number of shops and eateries or have it shipped.
BlackDuck is a family-owned cidery in Ovid, the Finger Lakes region. They produce not only hard cider, but perry (a cider made from pears) and vinegar. Everything is made in small batches with minimal manipulation using ambient yeast fermentation. You won’t find any added sugar or preservatives, but you will find a consciousness around the microclimate of growing regions and close attention to how natural characteristics of fruit yield a perfect blend. Fruit is sourced from two separate places in the Finger Lakes, between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes.
3046 County Road 138, Ovid, NY | (607) 532 - 4956
Owned by brother and sister Kyle and Sara Sherrer, Graft is an exciting farm cidery on the rise. Based in Newburgh in the Hudson Valley, the team shares a vision for a new kind of cider company that honors old-world traditions. Graft features different lines of ciders that are available on a rotating and seasonal basis. From the outside, each brew bears a storied name like “the Book of Nomad” and “Cloud City”. Graft’s cans feature bright, eye-catching art. There’s just as much going on inside; all the ciders are unfiltered, without sulfites, sorbates or added sugar, and are fermented with Graft’s house strain of wild brett yeast. With Graft you’ll find fruity ciders, hoppy ciders, and seasonal cider varieties.
218 Ann Street, Newburgh, NY | (410) 967 - 1926
SunDog Cider is handcrafted in a solar-powered, former paper mill in Chatham, New York. Founder Jody Rae is an entrepreneur, inventor, and environmentalist. SunDog holds true to their green values; their facilities run on vegetable oil collected from restaurants to further reduce their carbon footprint. This snappy, refreshing cider can be found all over New York. See SunDog’s website for a list of retailers organized by county.
(518) 392 - 4000
Photo: Nine Pin
New York’s first farm cidery sets a standard for complex, carefully crafted ciders. In addition to a traditional blend, they brew ciders with ginger, Belgian Abbey Ale yeast, blueberries, pears, peaches, vanilla beans, and more. Nine Pin uses apples sourced from Samascott Orchard in Kinderhook and other farms around the Hudson Valley and Capital Region. Nine Pin’s tasting room in downtown Albany is housed in a rustic warehouse setting and outdoor seating.
929 Broadway, Albany, NY | (518) 449 - 9999
The Brewing & Cider Co. is the newest addition to the project at Critz Farm, found in Cazenovia, New York. Ingredients are grown on-site at Critz, a 30-year-old working farm. Their ciders start with a base of fresh sweet cider, then are fermented with champagne yeast, and blended with maple syrup, honey, or other juices to create different blends. The Cidery offers ten different kinds of cider from dry to semi-sweet with seasonal varieties like Gathering Moon and Apple Blossom Special. Visit the tasting room at Critz Farms for a flight of delicious autumn fancy.
3232 Rippleton Road, Cazenovia, NY | (315) 662 - 3355