Cider Club Quarterly: February 2019

Musings from the Farm, the Cidery, the Tasting Room

Greetings upon the return of the light!

To join the Club, visit this page. To give as a GIFT, go here.

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The Cross Quarter is approaching, when the balance of light shifts back toward a warming balance. On a farm, especially one like ours, which grows in high tunnels for vegetable season extension, the Winter Cross Quarter (this year on Feb 2, 2019) is something you can feel. I’d invite you all to check out a greenhouse- somewhere, here perhaps?- on a sunny day. I know forest bathing has found a footing in social media… I’m considering a whole new endeavor in season extension bathing. Winter salad production bathing?

So we celebrate that slow build towards spring! When you hear from me in May, it’ll be amid the mad rush of tasks and hopes and plans and the best chance to make the most of the 2019 growing season (if that chance wasn’t 10 years ago). Perhaps this is another thing I so enjoy about the Winter Cross Quarter… the intensity outside increases, but there is still ample time to relax. And write to you, and test and blend the previous vintage.

Thank you for joining and sustaining our Club. I adore having direct communication with people who eat and drink what we make. I value deeply that you choose our farm and cidery, and seek to share with you the trials and joys of each season through the Club selections as made by myself, Garrett and Jimmy. Please let me know if there is more you want to know about the farm, the cidery, or the tasting room. We are here to learn from you.


We are in the midst of large changes in our farm. Garrett and I started this project just over 10 years ago, and it is in adolescent stages with all the flux that entails. If you follow the newsletters or social media, you will know that I’m moving my draft team- Leo and Polly- along to a new farm (find more updates on that at  

Good Life farm was a bare field at first, where we mixed tree planting with annual vegetables and much wide open field mowing. Now, Good Life Farm is largely covered in 10 year old trees, and the tillage has ended and the mowing style shifted to between trees and in narrow alleyways. Leo and Polly don’t have quite enough work, and I do not have enough time to train them for pleasure, as I desire to do. I have had a loving ton of inquiry about them, and we are well on our way to an excellent new farm for them. I am partially on my way towards accepting this important change but in the spirit of true sustainability, I am glad to do what is best for my farm, team and myself. We all need something slightly different.


I think the transition for me, Leo, and Polly, is indicative of the stage our farm and cidery growth are at in general. It is a useful symbol. When Garrett and I started the farm in 2008, we were strict and intense about how to apply permaculture on our farm. As we’ve morphed towards the regenerative agriculture movement, we’ve realized some of the mistakes of our youth-driven maniacal focus, and have started a redesign of some of our plantings and our ways of operating. It’s a big transition, but I feel that it is timely. 2019 looks to be a big year of transition.



Jimmy, Garrett and I finished our final pressing on Nov 29. 2018 amid snow and sleet. We had learned to operate our new press over the course of the 2018 vintage, and in our final pressing we set a record. In 2 days we pressed 3,000 gallons in an absolute marathon set of workdays. Now the 2018 vintage is happily finishing primary fermentation, and resting in the cool to deepen. Some of the 2018 ciders we only made in small quantities: ‘King of Hector’ is only 70 gallons from my wild harvesting efforts- and we will experiment with these as a hobby cider maker might. We will continue to create the K&S ciders that you know and love well, like,  ‘Northern Spy’ and ‘Rosè’ for that patio pounding moment. Garrett and Jimmy continue to finesse our champagne method ciders like ‘Cazenovia’ and ‘Geneva Russet’ for those refined moments, and we’re just into Ice Cider season with these seriously freezing temperatures rotating with some thaw. The cidery is in its most restful phase, but blending comes soon! And with it more info on the truth of the 2018 harvest.



Most of you likely have visited by now, and we hope you always feel welcome at the Finger Lakes Cider House. This aspect of our business continues to blow our farmer minds- by adding a full lunch and brunch menu these past 6 months we’ve expanded what our farm can do for the Tasting Room and what you can do here! In an ever adjusting journey, we’re seeking a to offer a cozy space with a full emphasis on quality without pretension and a clear focus on the story of upstate New York sustainable agriculture. We have started our search for a new Tasting Room Manager and are starting to hire for regular tasting staff as well. If you know of someone up for the challenge of the farm to cidery to tasting room and cafe storytelling job, send ‘em our way! If you want that story told to you at any time, please come by. As a reminder, you will always get 20% off all cider purchased in the Tasting Room- including the cider you drink here.


Here’s to you and here’s to our connection to your dining room table, your parties and your palate. We want to know what you think and we seek to grow in response.

Be well, and enjoy that little bit of additional sunlight!


Melissa, for the Good Life-Kite & String-FLCH crew

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February Quarter Club Ciders

To join the Club, visit this page. To give as a GIFT, go here.

Caznovia 2017 

Apples Used: Dabinet, Tremlett’s Bitter, Somerset Redstreak, Chisel Jersey, Kingston Black, Bulmers Norman, Major, Margil, Golden Russet, Newtown Pippin, Baldwin, Northern Spy, Roxbury Russet, Blue Pearmaine, Tompkins King, Cox Orange Pippin, Pound Sweet, Sheepnose, Esopus Spitzenburg, Baldwin, Famous, Ida Red, Crispin

Carbonation Method: Traditional Method

ABV: 8.4%

Residual Sugar: 0.4%

Cider Maker Notes: Made with the highest proportion of bittersweet apples of all our ciders. Fermented cold and slow before ageing and bottling for secondary fermentation. Disgorged at 6 months, then dosaged with our traditional ice cider to enhance the fruit aromas while offering a subtle, almost unnoticeable sweetness.

Tasting Notes: Baked apple aromas. Notes of cardamom, ginger, bayleaf, and nutmeg. Ripe pear and a structured rolling tannic finish with a touch of ice cider.

Inspiration: This year, we blended the bittersweets down a bit with small bits of a cacophony of Good Life apples to increase acidity just a bit. The result is a super fruit forward tannic cider! New cameo in this long standing blend (we’ve been making Cazenovia since 2013) is ‘Kingston Black’.

Production: 210 cases

Pairing Suggestions: This particular blend makes it a more delicate pairing than past ‘Caz’ vintages- we recommend this one standing alone a fabulous Welcome for any special dinner or for a toast. Locally we have a cheese called ‘Rose’s Reserve’- a nutty alpine style that pairs beautifully!

Geneva Russet 2017          

Apples Used:  Geneva Russet, Golden Russet, Margil,major,  Dabinet, Somerset Redstreak, Tremlett’s Bitter, Chisel Jersey, Winecrisp, Honeycrisp, Goldrush

Carbonation Method: Traditional Method

ABV: 8.4%

Residual Sugars: 0.5%

Cider Maker Notes: The timing for the 2017 Geneva Russet was unique in that we had the Russets early, and partially through fermenting the russet juice we added bittersweets, which expanded and slowed the whole process.

Tasting Notes: On the nose: honeyed floral notes, buttered popcorn, campfire. Palate evolution of dirty honey, fresh cut grass and creme fraiche. Finish with long, soft tannins

Inspiration: We wanted to make a Russet-dominated cider to express the uniquely low acid character and complex flavor of these apples. Traditional Method is our preferred technique for our dry ciders- to create more complex aromas and- in the case of Geneva Russet- the creaminess of the second fermentation and slight dosage gives the mouthfeel some weight.  

Production: 210 cases

Pairing Suggestions: We tried this with a variety of herbs and spices and determined that the best pairing is floral but can be savory or sweet. Think anise, lavender, cacao. On the fully savory side, smoked gouda is always a winner.

Traditional Ice Cider 2017

Apples Used: Northern Spy, Golden Russet, Newtown Pippin, Ida Red, Crispin, Margil

Carbonation Method: Still (no carbonation)

ABV: 12%

Return Sugars: 19%

Cider Maker Notes: Fermented in deep winter after a long process of cryo-extraction through December and January.  After removing enough ice/water we achieved a starting juice of 39 brix. Not only do we concentrate sugars, but we also concentrate the acidity.  The Total Acidity is the highest we’ve ever seen, which we’re glad to have as a balance to the sweetness of this dessert cider. We stopped fermentation by cold crashing at 19 brix and 12% ABV. We then aged this blend at 37 degrees F for six months in stainless before filtering and bottling in the fall.

Tasting Notes: Aromas of baked apple and sun warmed fresh melon. Bitter citrus rind on the front palate with quenching, lingering acidity. Silky, viscous mouthfeel with a long finish.

Inspiration: Ice Cider is almost obvious to make in our climate… and as we’ve learned from our mentors, it captures the truth of the harvest. In this Ice Cider, we focused on NYS-bred varieties and used the cold of our season to make something terroir-driven, all the way home.

Production: 92 cases

Pairing Suggestions: Make this the centerpiece of dessert! Pair with grapefruit or lemon curd, blue cheese, cheddar and soft bread, dark chocolate and fresh orange wedges.