Cider House staff

A Pin In Time: 5 Vintages of Cazenovia

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Staff Training February 28, 2018

Marking time in our own little tree ring…

On the verge of finalizing the 2017 blend, we spent an hour walking through a vertical tasting of Good Life Farm-Kite & String Cide Cazenovia, starting with our first vintage in 2013 and through the blending trials and proposed final blend for 2017. Reminiscing fueled by cider as each vintage reminded us of something unique to our orchard cider community- Eve's Cidery's generosity in 2013 when they let us start production at their place while still building ours; my own learning curve in selling cider alongside vegetables, fruit and meat; the support of Cornell Orchards, Black Diamond Cider, Redbyrd Orchard Cider and Farnum Hill Cider in getting bittersweet cider varieties into our country.

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Cheers to the uniqueness that emerges as we produce or more of our own bittersweets here at Good Life Farm to make Cazenovia- one of my personal favorite ciders for its tannic dryness and  the windows it opens into past support that is the Finger Lakes and northeastern cider communities. This tasting marked the slow, one-chance-annually evolution of us a cider makers in the fine methode champenoise tradition 🥂

August 2017 at Eve's Cidery: Lessons in the Traditional Method

Notes on our 8/16/17 Visit

By Ezra Sherman and Autumn Stoscheck, owners of Eve's Cidery

The premise of the staff training was 'Bittersweet apples, Natural bubbles', but the implications were deeper. What does it mean to make cider with true cider varieties instead of left over supermarket apples? What is the point of going through all the effort of using the traditional method to make bubbly cider?

Ezra gave a lesson on the art of disgorging, a processes for removing the yeast after an in-bottle secondary fermentation and Autumn led the group through a tasting of our 2015 Autumn's Gold and two French Ciders from La Perche and and Pays d'Auge, all made from bittersweet apples. 

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The lessons were interesting but afterward we sat around in front of the cider barn watching the sun set and enjoying a simple farm meal. As we ate, the French cider began to grow on everyone. We talked about 300 year old apple trees, the story that well-made cider tells, and traditions that link us to farms across continents. 

Read more about Eve's  Cidery on their blog...

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Cider House Staff Training: Celebrating 10 years at the Good Life Farm

Good Life Farm and Cider, now Kite & String, home of Finger Lakes Cider House and all your best friends

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

First cycle of Cider House staff training is complete! After starting our monthly tours with Eve's Cider in April and hitting Black Diamond in May and Redbyrd in June, we come home to the Cider House and the farm that is its foundation.

Good Life Farm- a dream of building topsoil now in its tenth year. Home to Garrett and Melissa, who've been holding and implementing a regenerative design here for 10 years. Enter Matt and brother Jimmy, horses+dogs+cows+turkeys+geese and add, with the 2015 opening of the Cider House, 15 more human team members.

Together we balance the long term ecological focus of the Good Life Farm with immediate economic reality. Good Life Farm is just coming into it's own- just barely- and the Cider House collaboration and our own Good Life/ Kite & String Cider production have made this leg of the journey that much sweeter.

So we took this time to top off the longest party weekend if the year with a day-after gathering of our own to honor the Good Life Farm (Kite & String/Good Life Cider) and the entire Cider House team. In particular, we say goodbye to Brad, who brought a new level of integrity and intensity to the Tasting Bar but really, and also, employed his naturalist skills to bring us some forgotten apples from Hector for a new, soon to be released collaborative cider. Brad is off to new adventures, and maybe he'll someday tell us where those trees are.  For now, we thank him for bolstering our young orchard with the fruit of these steady, survivalist elders.

And we'll try to do those hard-won apples (2016- just a real challenge of a growing year) some justice...

And sometimes at the end of all this heavy thinking, we just celebrate! Here's to the trees, here's to the teamwork that gets us there, whether we've been working together for a week or all this decade long.

An evening at Redbyrd Orchard kicks off the Cider Wheel!

Discussing cider with Eric, Round 2

You can too at the Redbyrd Afternoon- June 17, 2 - 5 PM

A recap on our June 7 Staff Training at Redbyrd

This past Wednesday (6/7/2017), our dedicated and excitable staff visited Eric, Deva, Cyrus, Leo and Felix at their home and the younger of the two Redbyrd Orchard sites (Trumansburg). Apropos of our coming public event on June 17 with Eric, we got to taste and chat in the orchard, and came away with our standard feeling of love, respect, awe and inspiration for our partner cideries. June is unique because it is the fever pitch of spring orchard work and sets the stage for the harvest to come. We started our walk with beautiful abundance on 5 yr dwarf Kingston Black and quickly encountering buzz concepts we were forced to dissect... biodynamics. Why, explain. To irrigate for larger and greater future harvests, or to push developing trees to withstand all weather opportunities. Sharing an evening with this family, amidst their unending agricultural journey, expressed so well in dry (and only dry) cider... well, it's just sweet. We recognize and salute the slow flame that burns in Eric and Deva's farmer hearts and keeps Redbyrd making these unique ciders in the smallest batches.

And now the news... updates on the RBO Cider Wheel Project

Reposted from Redbyrd's blog, 6/6/2017

At Redbyrd Orchard we are currently working on a new project, developing a cider wheel to highlight and focus on the unique specific flavors and textures of cider.  We created our first template for the cider wheel and tested it out alongside a cider release event at the Finger Lakes Cider House in March.  This was a super fun event for us as the interest and curiosity of the cider wheel became obviously clear and worth our while.  At that time we tasted 14’ Celeste Sur Lie, 15’ Wild Pippin, and the 16’ Workman Dry, three very different ciders.  We gave the tasters a copy of the first draft of our cider wheel and the flight of ciders to taste and comment.  We got tons of cool feedback, confirming our descriptors for the ciders but more importantly adding more and cultivating and encouraging new descriptors. Now we are working on adding these to the wheel and continuing to hone in on the multitude of flavor expressions in cider.  Below is some boiled down data from this tasting event.   Descriptors are listed in order of the most commonly used for each cider as well as a list of our favorite new descriptors for each cider.


14’ Celeste Sur Lie

Our Tasting Notes: elegant aromas of caraway, clementine, and pine. Full bodied mid-palate revealing lemon curd and raspberry. Soft lingering tannins

From Event:  Bittersweet Apple, Grapefruit, sour, astringent, mouth watering, lime, tart cherry, tangerine,  yeast, birch      

New Descriptors : Toast, biscuit, Raw Bread Dough, Arugula, White Grape


15’ Wild Pippin

Our Tasting Notes : A delicate nose of white pepper, lemongrass, and lime. Herbaceous notes of freshly dug wild carrot root, finishing with mouth watering tannins

From Event :  Earthy, sour, soft tannins, yeast, mushroom, tart cherry, tangerine, velvety

New Descriptors : Rose, Cherry Blossom, Fennel


16’ Workman Dry

Our Tasting Notes : Tropical fruit, orange peel, and birch on the nose. Fruit forward but with a round supple mouthfeel transitioning to a finish of mouthwatering acidity and plentiful tannins. Bright and juicy tart.

From Event :   Lime, Lemongrass, bright, grapefruit, bittersweet apple, orange pith, waxy, cherry, clean, silky, mouth watering, lingering finish,

New Descriptors : Riesling Schorle, Melon, Nectarine


On Saturday June 17th at the Finger Lakes Cider House we will be releasing another cider,  the 2015 Andromeda Crab.  With this complex unique blend of Wickson, Dolgo and Manchurian crab, and classic European bittersweet apples we will again be looking to develop and increase the length of our list of descriptors for cider.  Please join us and be part of this pioneering discovery and the continued evolution of American cider.

Spring Training Part 2: Black Diamond Farm and Cider

Yesterday we hopped over the few miles to Black Diamond Farm and Cider (T'burg) for a sunset among blossoms of every type. Ian and Jackie of Black Diamond Cider took us on a walk through 30 years of building a farm from scratch, and still planting.

Visual and aromatic beauty aside, for those of us with younger orchards a walk through time like this is pure balm, and we love that planning for the Nth generation never ceases in this family.

Black Diamond is our 'estate' cidery here at FLCH, using 100% their own fruit in their ciders. And next Saturday, 5/13 (2-5pm), you can drop in here and have your own conversation with Ian!

Spring Training Cider House style with Eve's Cidery

This past Wednesday (April 5) marked the beginning of Spring Training, Cider House style.  Autumn hoofed us at double time up the famed Albee Hill where we gained 700' elevation and peered out over the Cayuta Creek valley.

Autumn has been an essential and generous mentor to Melissa on and off since 2001, when she introduced "farming is cool" as a concept.  Over the past 16 years, we at the Cider House and Good Life Cider have relied on Autumn's sharp insight, pure honest and incredible craftspersonship to help guide us on our own journey into grower cider. 

Atop Albee Hill, our whole crew joined Autumn in pondering the mysteries of the organic orchard and associated soapboxes and the oh-so-challenging economics or small-scale, low volume, high quality grower cider.  And at the end of it, we got to taste 4 years of the results in an Eve's Cidery 'Northern Spy' vertical tasting spanning 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.  The 2015 is on our Tasting Menu right now!

In this year's round of training, we meet and greet with each of our four farm-based cideries to make sure that we- Cider House team- can do our best behind the bar to tell these small farm-based cidery stories when we serve you.  We'll continue to offer educational programming through the year to highlight why we think what we do is... delicious.  Special. Worth every effort. Stay with us- more to come.

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Autumn's Orchard Cider Manifesto

Post View of 'Taste the Orchard in Your Glass' Workshop here on 8/16/16...

Autumn's Orchard Cider Manifesto

by Autumn Stoscheck, 2016

Contained within the apple is the potential to express both the characteristics of the varieties used, and the characteristics of the land they were grown on.  In this way, cider can be to apples what wine is to grapes, which is to say infinitely complex and varied within the frame work of a defined set of variables, such as variety, soil, and climate.

In order for a cider to be reflective of the fruit, it should use apples intentionally; both in the varieties used and the way the fruit is grown.  The cider making process should gently guide the fruit to cider, without leaving such a big hand print that the makers mark obscures the fruit characteristics.  It should also be a process of working with the fruit of the season rather than sourcing ingredients to meet the requirements of a formula.  The cider maker should be flexible and evolving. 

The discipline is about discovery and expressing what's available in the fruit, therefore flavors that obscure the fruit should be avoided.  These include: microbiological flavors that overwhelm of detract from the fruit, adjuncts that flavor the beverage like a tea or beer, and additives or processes used to stabilize the cider that diminish, detract or obscure the fruit.

The intention is to keep working with the fruit and discovering it's potential, including understanding the characteristics of different cider varieties and how they like to be grown and fermented.  As well, we are committed to building up our own, and a local, supply of true cider fruit so as to create a world in which it becomes apparent to cider-makers and drinkers the characteristics the place brings to cider.