Breaking news: Kite & String Wins NY Governor's Cider Cup at the New York Wine Classic!

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'Pioneer Pippin' breaking all kinds of ground!

K&S Pioneer Pippin wins both Governor's Cider Cup- first time awarded to a cider- and Best Heritage Cider.

FULL NEW YORK WINE CLASSIC RESULTS

We're psyched! This year seems to have a run on the FLX for wine and cider for accolades, and we're not complaining. The work has and is being put in, and New York State and the FLX are showing our stuff!

A few months ago, the Finger Lakes Cider House won #7 in USA TODAY'S 10 Top Cider Bars (nationally). Now, the Finger Lakes Currently Leading USA Today Poll for Best Wine Region, (you can vote through August 20).

About Heritage Cider

The US Association of Cider Makers (USACM) put together a style guide for cider, to help differentiate the incredible range in our industry. We identify as Heritage Style and choose more frequently to define ourselves as "orchard cider". For context...

Heritage Ciders are made primarily from multi-use or cider-specific bittersweet/bittersharp apples,heirloom varieties; wild or crab apples are sometimes used for acidity/tannin balance. These ciderswill generally be higher in tannins than Modern Ciders. This style encompasses those produced in the West Country of England (notably Somerset and Herefordshire), Northern France (notably Normandyand Brittany), Northern Spain (notably Basque and Asturias regions), as well as New World ciders and others in which cider-specific apple varieties and production techniques are used. Aroma/Flavor- Increased complexity derived from the cider maker’s selection of apples and production techniques. Common attributes include increased astringency, bitterness and complex aromatics.
Appearance- Typically yellow to amber in color. Ranges from brilliant to hazy, depending on the cider maker’s intention.
Varieties- Commonly used varieties include Dabinett (bittersweet), Kingston Black
(bittersharp), Roxbury Russet (American heirloom) and Wickson (crab).

Join us in continuing to shed our love on the FLX and heritage (orchard) cider!!

Celebrate FLX Apple Terroir with Black Diamond Farm and Cider

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Black Diamond exemplifies 30 years of exploring FLX Terroir for Apples and Cider

Join us for a series of unique ciders on Saturday, July 14th, 2 - 5 PM

Sneak Peek below written by Ian Merwin, owner of Black Diamond Farm and Cider

July 5, 2018

This has been a year of transition at Black Diamond Farm & Cider.  In April we planted 440 more apple trees in our new cider orchard, bringing total tree numbers on the farm to about 4400, and our apple varieties list to about 170.  These new plantings are mostly traditional cider varieties, including some from Asturias (Northern Spain), more favorites from Normandy France, and a few from the American South (Hewes Crab, Black Twig, Razor Russet).  These new trees will enable us to continue making ciders with only home-grown fruit—while providing a rich array of tastes and textures to express and explore the authentic terroir of our farm, climate and cider-making practices.

In addition to the eight Black Diamond Ciders we have made in past years, in 2018 we had enough of several longtime favorite cider varieties to create four new “varietal” ciders.  The July 14th event at FLCH will be the first public offering of these new ciders!  Just as Pinot Noir excels in France’s Burgundy Region, and Cabernet Sauvignon thrives in the Napa Valley, we believe that certain cider apples can achieve fullest expression in our Finger Lakes region.  We have a long, cool growing season, deep glacial soils with base mineral reserves and fertility, and rapidly developing expertise among local cider makers who share their nascent knowledge and experience growing apple varieties specifically for fine ciders.  The four new barrel reserve varietal ciders from Black Diamond Farm represent our foray into the realm of intensely varietal and uniquely local ciders.  They were made from apples picked at peak flavor within the 64 acres surrounding our cidery, fermented in small batches that started on native wild yeasts, and then finished with a few cultured yeast strains.  Thanks to a cool wet growing season in 2017, the fruit at hand this year had ample acidity and tannic structure.  Because each of these ciders consists of just one or two varieties, they are a bit quirky and individualistic.  Yet we think they also represent the Finger Lakes cider terroir that is gaining recognition nationally—fruit-forward ciders with complex acidity, minerality, and tannic structure that hold true to the land and orchards where they were grown, fermented, aged and bottled.  We look forward to tasting these new varietal ciders with everyone at the Finger Lakes Cider House this month!


Tasting Notes for New Varietal Ciders in 2018


Ashmead’s Kernel/Reinette Musquee

This is a blend of two classical cider apples, one from England and the other from France.  Chris Negronida conjured up this varietal blend a few years ago, and we all loved it!  Delicate tannins and bright acidity under notes of apricot, nutmeg and cloves, made in the traditional methode champenoise. 

ABV = 7.9%,  Total acidity = 7.8 g/L,  Residual sugars = 0.0%,  Total tannins = 504 ppm.


Golden Russet/Porter’s Perfection

A happy marriage of two cherished cider apples—one from New York around 1850, and the other from England in the 1890s.  Golden Russet lends its crisp acidity and ginger bite, while Porter’s Perfection provides tannic structure and depth of finish, underlying fruit notes of mango and citrus. 

ABV = 8.0%, Total acidity=6.9 g/L, Residual Sugar=0.0%, Total tannins = 817 ppm.


Geneva Tremlett’s Bitter

The true identity of this cider apple is unknown!  It was imported from England for the Geneva NY-USDA apple collection in the 1960s, thought to be the English cider apple Tremlett’s Bitter.  Whatever its true name is, Geneva Tremletts has established itself as one of the few bittersharp cider apples that can stand on its own in the bottle.  It has ample acidity, robust tannins, and notes of key lime and cinnamon spice.  We bottle conditioned this cider to mellow its acidity, letting it age for six months on the lees.  Some sediment is expected when serving. 

ABV=7.7%, Total Acidity=7.9 g/L, Residual sugars=0.0%, Total tannins = 907 ppm.


Harry Master’s Jersey

The dominant variety in this cider was sometimes called the “Port Wine” apple in Southwest England, and is a characteristic Somerset Jersey type of bittersweet apple with soft tannins and complex textures.  We added a bit of Pink Pearl and Cox Orange Pippin to the blend, for the sake of diversity. 

ABV = 7.7%, Total Acidity = 7.9%, Residual Sugar = 0.5%, Total tannins = 880 ppm.

 

Revealing the May Cider Club for these last few weeks...

By mid July we'll start prepping for the August Club!

Get in on the May Club for 2 more weeks!

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May Cider Club letter

May 1, 2018

Greetings, greetings!

May is here. It's a time of edgy excitement on this farm.... Where we wonder if we’ll be able to pull off all that we’ve planned for the year. Where we respond to the rapidly increasing light as we roar towards Summer Solstice with the belief that this year will be even better than the last. It's a wild time! We’re sending you ciders that both encapsulate that spring vibration and give you permission to sit back and soak it in.

CLUB COORDINATION HAND-OFF

For clarity, this is Melissa Madden writing to you. I am the Good Life Farm- Kite & String- Cider House owner, farmer, HR director, accountant, janitor, vet, horse driver, mouse chaser and chief composter. I’ve also taken over the Cider Club starting this quarter and I am DELIGHTED!  I miss the years of our Good Life Farm Spring CSA and the community that created. I see the Cider Club as a CSA in similar ways- we’re able to produce ciders just for you, and tell their story more fully. We get to stay in touch and share the ups and downs of our farm and cider life, and hear your thoughts. We get to know more about your lives and what brings you to this FLX region. I have lots of gratitude to Jenny and Sam for getting the Club going over the past year and half, and am so happy to be in a position to take it on as my other responsibilities shift here at home.

VALUING OUR FLX CIDER CULTURE

As you may know from social media, I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Spain as part of a group of cider makers, restaurateurs, journalists and cider culture activists. It was a wacky time to leave the farm and I, for one, am grateful for the slow cool spring that allowed me to enjoy that time away. I’ll be reaching out over the course of the next few months to share highlights of our explorations into Asturian and Basque cider and food culture!  In a nutshell, my greatest take-away was a refocusing on my love and respect for the cider community here in New York and particularly the Finger Lakes. We are in excellent company and will continue to make the Cider House a place where our collaborative spirit can shine.

A MOMENT IN THE LIFE OF OUR FARM

Now that I’m back, a focus on the farm! We’ve abruptly entered the spring boom period (between breaking dormancy and fruit set) when we watch the weather for scab and fireblight infection events and bite our nails waiting to get through bloom without hard frost. This is the period that tells us how it will be for the rest of the season when we shift towards managing fruit pests and diseases. This time determines the eventual harvest. We also have new trees to plant, and 1,500 trees from last year to cultivate with our horses Leo and Polly. We’ve got 4 miles of asparagus rows to walk and pick daily between May and mid-June, and we’ve got baby poultry to get ramping up for the year. We have ginger and turmeric to plant and tend, and probably a number of things I’m willfully forgetting. I will miss the baby cows this year, but I am excited to renew both my and Garrett’s focus on the orchard for 2018.

IN SUM

In celebration of all of this, we send you this May Cider Club! And if you care to join us in these oh-so-heady times, know you are welcome anytime. Most especially, come see us for Asparaganza 2018 (Saturday, May 26, 3 - 10 pm)! More info… on our website for this family friendly bonanza of fun: fingerlakesciderhouse.com.

Much love and gratitude as the days lengthen!

Melissa on behalf of the farm, cidery and tasting room crews

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May 2018 Club Ciders


King of Hector 2016

Apples Used: 100% wild harvested fruit from Hector, NY, harvested by Brad DeFrees and Will Seymour

Carbonation Method: Traditional Method

ABV: 8.4%

Residual Sugar: 0%

Tasting and Cider Maker Notes: Gripping acidity typical of wild seedlings and crab varieties. Slow fermentation (2 months). Hands off approach with little intervention. High acid cider aged well over the winter with beautiful aromas and unique flavor. We were excited to keep this extremely small lot separate that  season and this cider was filtered and bottled as our last traditional method product of the year.

Inspiration: King Of Hector was produced for the Cider Club only. Brad DeFrees sought out his favorite haunts in Hector in the fall of 2016, when we had an almost complete crop loss on the farm due to late frosts. He found us a great mix of acidic, tannic and aromatic fruit and brought in 20 bushels to make this limited run cider just for you!

Production: 24 cases

Pairing Suggestions: We think this cider drinks like a dry, Spanish champagne style. It is crisp, long lasting, and acidic, and embodies the heat of 2016. Drink it as a starter to open up your guests’ palates and imaginations, with light appetizers like dried fruit or with lightly fried fish or potatoes.


Rose 2017

Apples Used:  Newtown Pippin, Baldwin, Liberty, McIntosh

Carbonation Method: Charmat

ABV: 8.2%

Residual Sugars: 2.9%

TA: 6.9%

Tasting and Cider Maker Notes: A mix of sharp, high acid apples (primarily late season) blended with 18% fresh (unfermented) Riesling juice grown at Hosmer vineyards (Ovid, NY) and 10% Marechal Foch (French variety) red grape wine produced at Swedish Hill Vineyards (Romulus, NY). Put through a secondary fermentation in a closed pressurized tank and bottled at 4 volumes of carbonation pressure.

Inspiration: Blending Marechal Foch red wine from Swedish Hill with our high acid cider blend allows us to play with the wine culture of the Finger Lakes. We add in the unfermented Riesling from Hosmer to kick start the charmat fermentation and crash that halfway through to leave a residual, fruity, grassy sweetness that we think brings this Rose right home to the FLX.  

Production: 402 cases

Pairing Suggestions: This cider is super quenching and brightly fruity. It will go well with alpine style cheese, southeast Asian flavors like ginger, garlic and onion greens and lemongrass.
 


Glacial Till 2017

Apples Used:  Golden Russet, Goldrush, Porters Perfection, Dabinett, Brown Snout, Liberty, Chisel Jersey, Stoke Red, Yarlington Mill, Suncrisp, Redfield, Scarlett Ohara, Akane, Enterprise, Honeycrisp, Winecrisp, Florina

Carbonation Method: Still (no carbonation)

ABV: 9%

Return Sugars: 1%

Tasting and Cider Maker Notes: 100% estate grown fruit. Heavy Golden Russet blend with a substantial tannic backbone. Goldrush, Liberty, and Enterprise give this cider it’s acidity.

Inspiration: This was our first year of bittersweet apples coming into bearing on Good Life Farm. Since 2015 we have made one or another estate (all our own Good Life Farm fruit, 100% organic) cider as the conditions permitted- Hickok in 2015, Goldrush from 2016 and now Glacial Till for the 2017 vintage. It’s an honor to mark the growth of our farm, of our skills as farmers and understanding as cider makers, and time in general with these widely varying Good Life estate ciders.

Production: 121 cases
Pairing Suggestions:  This cider drinks like a full bodied white wine. We recommend serving at 55°F and decanting briefly, then enjoying slowly with acidic and salty flavors like a fresh cut Manchego or grated Pecorino.

Guest Cideries at the Cider House

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For immediate release

Interlaken, NY, May 9th, 2018

To celebrate its third anniversary, Finger Lakes Cider House on Good Life Farm, home of Kite and String Cider, has expanded its beverage program to bring together cider makers from throughout New York State.  Since opening in May 2015, the farm cidery tasting room on Cayuga Lake has focused its program of dinners, events, and in-store activities on a small group of Finger Lakes cider makers. Beginning in May 2018, the Cider House will host a curated selection of one visiting cidery per month to share the tasting menu with Kite & String. This renewed approach gives the Cider House team the opportunity for creative collaboration with like-minded cider makers in the Finger Lakes, Hudson Valley, Western New York and beyond, and allows its loyal community of cider enthusiasts to experience orchard-based cider of exceptional quality from a wider range of apples, terroir and technique.

Each month the Cider House will welcome a new producer to share their vision, strengths and interests. Each guest producer will be on the tasting menu and shelves alongside Kite & String, exposing customers to the collaborative mix of excellence and experimentation. Early plans include:

In May, the Cider House will feature Redbyrd Orchard Cider from nearby Trumansburg. Redbyrd is featured on the tasting menu all month, and on Saturday, May 19th will launch a special cider with a release party focused on RBO’s orchard and unique approach to cider making. Join Eric Shatt at the Cider House for a walk into the Good Life organic orchards to taste Redbyrd’s 2017 estate grown ‘Cloudsplitter’ while discussing biodynamic orcharding with Eric and Mike Biltonen of Know Your Roots Orchard Consulting.

In June Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider from Breezy Hill Orchard in Staatsburg will take residency at the Cider House. Breezy Hill’s visionary farmer-owner Elizabeth Ryan has more than 30 years experience with land preservation and cider making in the Hudson Valley, and is a keen scholar of regional cider anthropology stretching back to the 17th century apple orchards planted by the Dutch . Elizabeth will make a few appearances in the Ithaca area in June,  leading an exploration of cider’s colonial heritage with Experience the Finger Lakes on 6/6 and exploring the influence of this heritage on today’s food and drink culture on 6/7 at the Cider House.

Future guest producers will be posted on the Finger Lakes Cider House calendar.


Melissa Madden, co-owner of Finger Lakes Cider House said, “We as Kite & String Cider, the cider makers we are including in our program, and our teams in the tasting room and at the farm are energized by the idea of leveraging the Cider House to expand the conversation about good cider, good farming, where we come from and where we can go as a community of New York cider producers.”

Jenn Smith, Executive Director of the New York Cider Association said, “As the venue of NYCA Board meetings and our annual AGM, the Cider House has been integral to fostering collegiality among the cider makers in our state, and it is thrilling to know that in the coming months their cider and food culture offerings will even better reflect their collaborative, cooperative nature by expanding their current excellent cider program to include thoughtful producers from all corners of the state.”  

About Finger Lakes Cider House

Finger Lakes Cider House is evolving its business at the same time that it nurtures the larger farm-based cider industry. It is open seven days a week, serving cider alongside local food, and featuring Friday Night Dinners and weekly lunch menu. Additionally, the Cider House often hosts special events and live music, and it is a central hub for the annual Cider Week FLX Festival (September 28th - October 8th, 2018). To learn more, see the Kite & String cider catalogue, or plan a trip, visit fingerlakesciderhouse.com

 

Contact

To learn more about the Cider House or its new program of residency for New York’s premier cider makers, please reach out to Melissa Madden at melissa@fingerlakesciderhouse.com.

A New Way to Host Guest Cideries, Staring May 1!

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Introducing a new way to highlight on guest cideries at the Cider House... starting with Redbyrd Orchard Cider!

Starting with May, we're shifting our manner of hosting guest cideries to focus on 1 special orchard cidery per month, alongside our own Kite & String.

Redbyrd will be our focus for May with Workman Dry on tap and an estate cider release party on Saturday, May 19 for Cloudsplitter!

More info on Redbyrd Orchard, our 5/19 Release Party and the next guests on the calendar!

Breaking News: April 2017

Eve's Cidery now offers on-farm, by appointment tastings in Van Etten

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Three and a half years ago, the Finger Lakes Cider House opened its door with a unique idea: provide a retail space for cider friends and colleagues who didn't have one and simultaneously become a destination for tasting cider from multiple producers in one spot. We've been proud and honored to be part of Melissa and Garrett's ambitious project. Since 2015, the cider industry as a whole has evolved, the Cider House has evolved, Eve's has evolved, and at this point in time, we are ready to tell the story of our land and our cider in our particular voice. We believe that the future of cider in our region lies in it's ability to tell the story of the land, a story about the way in which a specific place can be translated into cider, a story that connects people intimately to a place through what's in their glass. We believe people will be most interested in the region when they can get to know individual producers and their specific sites and we'd like to get better at helping folks do that. We love and admire Melissa and Garrett and are excited to continue to work closely with them as me move into our next chapter.

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For more information and to visit Eve's at home: evescidery.com

Making Cider for the trees

Why cider, why here, what for

Growing an orchard for cider, and hard years

by Melissa Madden, owner Finger Lakes Cider House, Kite & String Cider, Good Life Farm

The Cider House started as a love letter in physical (in exceptionally encompassing form) to the orchards that do and will cover the landscape of New York and the greater Northeast.  From a terroir perspective, the abundance of wild and state-bred apples alone recommends NYS as the hard cider capital of the country.  When thinking in terms of biologically-appropriate planning, trees as part of a northeastern farm come front and center.

Over the past few years of intense Cider House start-up, we've allowed the  visible role of Good Life Farm to fade to the back ground.  Kite & String is now the name of our house cider, and we still strive towards using only our own apples. This goal is years away but in focus as the clearest way for us to express the power of a biodiverse organic farming system. Like those we collaborate with most closely- Redbyrd Orchard Cider, Eve's Cidery and Black Diamond Cider- we value the life that exists within the orchard and recognize its potential for ecological healing.

Without further ado, here is the case for you, as our friends and customers- to try out orchard cider built on the verticality that is Good Life Farm- Kite & String- Finger Lakes Cider House... A love letter to the trying year in agriculture that was 2016 and an invitation to our Cider Club...

 

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ORCHARD CIDER, IN THE GOOD LIFE ORCHARD

The 2016 organic Goldrush crop on our Good Life Farm was the sole harvest for that year, and quite minimal it was. We shared the loss of harvest potential with many Finger Lakes farmers starting right off at Valentine’s Day. In mid-February 2016 we saw temperatures swing from the non-winter we’d been having at 50F to 5F in one night. At that moment, it was adieu to the peach crop in one great Valentine’s Day massacre. As we proceeded through that capricious winter we watched temperatures soar to record heights January thru March only to drop randomly (in February) and significantly in April and May during blossom and pollination. We lost 95% of our crop between those 2 extremes, and then followed a drawn-out drought which started with the extreme dry winter and lasted all the way to October.  The resulting water stress on the trees was lessened by the absolute lack of a fruit crop, but we watched our potential for a ’16 vintage estate cider and fresh fruit sales trickle away into a dry creek of farm desperation.

A bright spot shone through the doom and gloom of scary climate and unhinged nature with a very tiny yield of Goldrush persisting on our adolescent trees. Between the drought and loss of buds at bloom time, we were astounded to greet these nuggets of survival. And the resulting fruit! We recorded the highest brix (sugar content of fruit, indicating ripeness, alluding to growing practices and giving a sense of what final ABV can be after fermentation) we’ve ever seen in fruit coming into Kite & String- either from our own organic fruit or from fruit purchased at more established FLX orchards. This juice was a miracle of complex, largely tropical flavors at the outset- think pineapple explosion- and through primary fermentation only became more astoundingly celebratory.

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IN THE KITE & STRING CELLAR

Garrett and Jimmy made the lovely decision to keep our 50 gallons of 2016 estate harvest (all our own fruit) separate, and to dive into the opportunity presented by this beloved and exquisite pressing in late October 2016. Goldrush 2016 made its way through a primary fermentation designed to maximize fruit quality, to experiment with a new yeast to maximize the single varietal character and to allow time for the choose-your-own-adventure of post-primary fermentation decision making. In March 2017, Goldrush went into secondary fermentation to become a methode champenoise (traditional method or champagne-style) with loose yeast through  secondary fermentation to bring fine, mousse-like bubbles to final cider. And Goldrush ‘16 fermented slowly away to a final and delightful 11% ABV. We disgorged with our fine team of 5 staff in October 2017 after 7 months of second fermentation and lees aging. At the moment, we’ve got a tiny 22 cases (50 gallons) to share and savor. And thus, we release it here to you. Because of the absolute precious-ness of this cider, K&S Goldrush 2016 will only be available to you and our Valentine’s Dinner folks for ordering and tasting.

 

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IN THE BOTTLE, ON YOUR TABLE

This cider, like the Baldwin ’16 you all received in November 2017, is very much a wine-like cider in its alcohol content, fruit expression, production method. Goldrush will pair well with the gentlest of Emmentaler or Alpine-style cheeses (think nutty flavors and subtle acid like a good Swiss). You’ll see how we serve it… first, with little to overshadow it but enough of a pairing to further tantalize your palate. It’s a celebration, the champagne of cider to get a little fancy with! We’re so pleased to have this come out of 2016 and all its challenges and even more pleased to share it with you- our closest friends in cider.

Interested in our 2016 estate cider 'Goldrush'?

Join our Cider Club!

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