orchard management

Kite & String Cider-Good Life Farm is hiring for 2019!

NOW HIRING: FARM AND CIDERY PRODUCTION ASSISTANT

December 19, 2018

Join our team!  Our farm-cidery-tasting room is hiring for a full-time position starting March, 2019. The Production Assistant will split duties between the farm and cidery, with duties rotating as the seasons demand. Good Life Farm is our diversified organic farm featuring apple, peach and pear orchards, season extension, poultry and draft horses. Kite & String is our cidery where we make a range of artisanal cider sourced from our own organic Good Life apples and those of other Finger Lakes orchards. All of this is the setting for our tasting room and cafe Finger Lakes Cider House.  

DOWNLOAD AND SHARE THIS JOB!

 

Summary

March through December 2019, possibility for long term employment based on mutual fit.

40 hr per week. Weekdays M-F, with one weekend per month.

Pay rate sliding $15.50-17/hr based on experience

 

Skills Sought

Some mix of trade skills- electrical, plumbing, carpentry, or min 3 years working full time on a farm or in a cidery/winery. Must be self-motivated and able to work in a team- taking direction from multiple managers and alone- keeping pace and attention to detail for solo tasks. We prefer to hire someone looking for longer term employment based on mutual fit.

 

Job Details

This job is a seasonal immersion in the life of an integrated farm-cidery-tasting room. The Production Assistant will assist seasonally in all aspects of our Kite & String Cider production and our Good Life Farm management. Weekly duties will be split roughly evenly between both the cidery and farm, but will shift weekly/monthly to meet seasonal demands. Throughout the season the Production Assistant will participate in harvest, washing and packing of Good Life fruit and produce, and daily livestock chores plus one weekend per month. Orchard management will be a primary focus. The Production Assistant will work with the team on infrastructure improvements throughout the year. Cidery tasks are ongoing all year, with a focus on bottling until apple harvest and pressing begin in late September/early October.

 

To Apply

Please send a letter of interest, resume with references to:

Melissa Madden (melissa@thegoodlifefarm.org)

Applications will be taken on a rolling basis until the position is filled.

All questions via email.

JOB DESCRIPTION DOWNLOAD

Guest Cider Maker Musings on 2018: Black Diamond Farm and Cidery

Thoughts on a wild year at Black Diamond

By Ian Merwin, owner-orchardist-cider maker

COME CHAT WITH IAN ON SATURDAY, DEC 15 (2 - 5 PM)

We are nearing the welcome end of a wild weather year at Black Diamond Farm & Cider!  I’d like to think that after 30 years growing apples here that we have enough experience to anticipate events in our orchards…but 2018 has put us all to the test!

Here are some high (low) lights for the past growing season:  The latest bloom date in 50 years; record heat in May/June/July, and the warmest night temperatures and highest sustained humidity in many decades.  Add to this strange brew a prolonged drought from May thru July in the FLX.  Then in mid August it began to rain incessantly, and the sun disappeared until…actually, we are still waiting for it to make a definite reappearance!

2018 was a great year for mushrooms, recycling an old apple stump here…

2018 was a great year for mushrooms, recycling an old apple stump here…

So what does all this mean for Finger Lakes cider-makers?  Fortunately, apple trees are resourceful and resilient, and most FLX orchards came through with a good sized crop this year.  However, this will be a harvest that tests the creativity and adaptability of cider-makers!  Most varieties ripened a week or two later than normal (a few never did ripen!) and a lot of apples hit the ground prematurely because of the excessive heat, humidity, and lack of sunshine.  Fruit sugar content was lower than usual, and acidity was higher, so there will definitely be some crisp mineral ciders from 2018, and skilled cider-makers will resort to alchemy!

With help from new ponds and drip irrigation on the farm, we were able to nurse our 500 newborn trees through the early-summer drought, and the long wet Autumn kept them growing well into November.  So our new French and Spanish varieties are set for next year, and we are looking forward to making some exotoc varietal ciders in 2019.  As I mentioned back in July for our Bastille Day tasting at the FLCH, we have a new array of one- and two-variety barrel fermented ciders to taste this year, all of which were made from 2017 fruit and then bottled this year. Below, you’ll find some exciting info about them, and come see us Saturday 12/15/2018!

Reinette Musquee (Margil) shows its contempt for excess heat in 2018!

Reinette Musquee (Margil) shows its contempt for excess heat 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 sugars = 0.0%, Total tannins = 817 ppm.

 

Geneva Tremlett’s Bitter—This cider apple is incognito!  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, which it turns out not to be!  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.

Somerset Jersey—The dominant variety in this cider is Harry Master’s Jersey—a characteristic Cornwall clan bittersweet apple with soft tannins and complex textures.  We added a bit of Pink Pearl and Cox Orange Pippin to this blend, to round things out. Lush aromatics of golden plums, and a long smooth finish characterize this new cider!                     ABV = 7.7%, Total Acidity = 7.9%, Residual Sugar = 0.7%, Total tannins = 880 ppm.

 

BRIEF INTERLUDE OF GRATITUDE

moon dancers.jpg

Moon Dancers, snow and the wonder of having animals

A moment of appreciation

We’re on the cusp of a big holiday which celebrates abundance. Harvest is over, and with this blizzard, it really really is. We loaded our turkeys up last night for today’s big life change… butchering for Thanksgiving. Yes, we raise animals for meat and that is part of it.

I wanted to take this moment to breathe thankfulness to all of the Good Life Farm animals- those who only stay a season and feed us at the end of it AND those who live here year in and year out. On our farm we emphasize a regenerative system that combines pasture with the care of trees. It is a cycle of fertility, pest control and joyful expression of each creature’s animal-ness. We seek biologically appropriate designs and integrated systems for maximum health throughout the lives of those in our care.

And today is a change for some, and next week many families will share this gratitude with us. Thank you to our perennial animal family (Leo, Polly, geese, Goose, Reepicheep, Wally, Suss, Ria…) and to those who stayed this summer and fall- the turk mclurks.

turks.jpg

Celebrate FLX Apple Terroir with Black Diamond Farm and Cider

apple dark background.jpg

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!

IMG_1625.JPG

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

IMG_1610.JPG

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.

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...

 

cultivation.jpg

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.

goldrush apples.jpg

 

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.

 

goldrush cider in glas.jpg

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!

double rainbow.jpg

Harvest Report 2017: Black Diamond Farm and Cider

Written by Ian Merwin

BD orchardist, cider-maker and flx pomme expert

2017 was a year of surprises for Finger Lakes cider growers, as Nature kept us all in suspense about the changing climate.  Balmy weather in February pushed apple bud development way too fast, and then near-zero cold came back in early March.  According to reference texts for apple bud survival of lethal temperatures, the orchards should have lost 90% of their flower buds the night of March 7th.  Imagine our surprise to see millions of flowers in the orchards when Spring arrived in May.  Only compulsive optimists and gamblers should grow fruit for a living!

sunset 2017.png

Then Nature dealt her next card: It was so rainy and cold during bloom time that our honeybees couldn’t get out of the hives.  It was up to the local native bumblebees to get the job done.  Cornell entomologists have done extensive research on our farm in recent years, trying to figure out why we have such large and diverse populations of native bees.  It’s likely because our three orchards are small (2, 5 and 7 acres) and each is surrounded by meadows, woods and hedgerows.  That landscape diversity provides ideal habitat for a dozen native bee species on the farm, and they did a great job pollinating our trees in 2017, while our honeybees shivered in their hives.  There was enough bloom and fruit set in the orchards for us to harvest our biggest crop ever this year!  The resilience of apple trees never ceases to amaze, and the old-time varieties that we grow seem to be especially hardy and adaptable.

crew 2017.png

The next surprise came in April, when we had 1200 baby trees to plant in a new cider orchard.  It started raining in late March, and when the farm finally dried out in August we had received twice the “normal” rainfall.  Muck boots and good friends came to the rescue…we managed to get those trees in the ground during a few brief dry spells.  This new orchard includes a dozen cider varieties that we imported from Spain way back in 2002.  After 15 years in virus quarantine at the USDA, these Asturian apples are now available to US cider-makers (check with Wafler and Cummins nurseries for details).  Some have great names like Piel de Sapo (Toad Skin), Perezosa (Lazy Girl) and Limon Montes (Mountain Lemon); it will be fun naming those ciders! In a few years the Spanish trees will begin to bear, and we can make some Finger Lakes versions of the exquisite Asturian ciders we tasted back in 1997, on our first cider visits to Spain and France.  As our production of American and European heritage cider varieties triples over the next few years, we will be making more small-batch varietal ciders, and can once again provide fruit for other local cider makers.

tanks and kiddo 2017.png

Continuing this climate roulette theme—there was a serious drought across the Finger Lakes region during 2016, and we ran out of water to irrigate our young trees.  So this year I rented a D7H Caterpillar to dig some more ponds.  The Honeoye soils on our farm are deep and fertile. But if you dig down enough there is a densely packed layer of clay deposited by receding glaciers 12,000 years ago, which provides a perfect basin for catchment ponds.  The ponds we dug this year should provide enough water for irrigation during future droughts.  My grandson Callum rode shotgun with me in the dozer, and I hope he will remember this when he is my age, just as I vividly recall riding in a bulldozer with my father in 1957, as we dug ponds on our Hudson Valley farm.

bulldozer 2017.png

As Black Diamond’s cider-makers, the greatest challenge for Chris Negronida and me is to take the fruit that Nature gives us each year—always different from other years in this part of the country—and work with each vintage to make the best possible ciders.  We hope that people will recognize Finger Lakes terroir in each year’s cider blends, and also appreciate the lineage with our previous years of orchard-based ciders.  This year we had enough fruit to make some new varietal ciders with Ashmead’s Kernal, Geneva Tremlett’s Bitter, and Reinette Musquee (a.k.a. Margil in the UK).  We look forward to sharing some new ciders and enjoying the serendipitous fruits of 2017 with cider lovers at the Finger Lakes Cider House during the coming year.

fly over 2017.png