Guest Cideries

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.

 

2018 Cider Week FLX launches!

Cider Week FLX!

Friday, September 28 - Sunday, October 9, 2018

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 20, 2018

Contact

Jenn Smith

Executive Director, New York Cider Association

917.714.4274 | newyorkciderassociation@gmail.com

4TH ANNUAL CIDER WEEK FLX, SEPTEMBER 28 - OCTOBER 7 PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON REGION’S ORCHARDS

ITHACA, NY - Cider Week FLX is a ten-day festival spotlighting the quality, variety and abundance of cider grown and made in the Finger Lakes. Harnessing the growing consumer interest in cider, the promotion drives agritourism to key farms and tasting rooms, and cultivates appreciation for New York cider in the region’s bars, restaurants, bottle shops and beyond. A full overview of the festival can be found on the Cider Week FLX website, CiderWeekFLX.com. Cider-focused happenings at participating orchards, cidery tasting rooms, and cider spots in Geneva, Interlaken, Ithaca, Rochester, Trumansburg, and Williamson include guided walks, dinners, drop-ins, and cheese pairings. Cider Week FLX is unique from other cider festivals because the Finger Lakes is an exceptional center of cider making, due to the relative abundance of cider fruit, the presence of Cornell University’s world-class apple horticulture and enology resources, the area’s identity as a winemaking region, and the location of the USDA apple germplasm repository in Geneva. The entire calendar of festival events is available online at CiderWeekFLX.com/flx/events/. On Sunday, September 30 the action will be at Cornell Orchards, where the “ Cider Sunday ” event offers an afternoon of orchard walks, talks from Cornell CALS educators and researchers, and a meet-the-cider maker tasting and market in the Cornell Orchards Store , with a special selection of cider pairing snacks provided by Cornell Catering . In addition to the hard cider that adults may sample, apple enthusiasts of all ages can taste and make bespoke blends of dozens of different apple varieties, including traditional European hard cider varieties. Finger Lakes cider makers participating in the Cider Week promotion include:

● BLACK DIAMOND CIDER (Trumansburg)

● EVE’S CIDERY (Van Etten)

● GRISAMORE CIDER WORKS (Locke)

● KITE & STRING CIDER (Interlaken)

● LAKE DRUM BREWING (Geneva)

● NEW YORK CIDER COMPANY (Ithaca)

● REDBYRD ORCHARD CIDER (Trumansburg)

● SOUTH HILL CIDER (Ithaca)

● WAR HORSE BREWING @ THREE BROTHERS WINERY (Geneva)

@newyorkcider

newyorkciderassociation@gmail.com

newyorkciderassociation.com

Over the past decade, hard cider has been one of the fastest growing segments of craft beverage, due to factors including interest in farm-to-bottle beverages, drinkers’ general wish for lower alcohol options, and orientation by millennials to drink by occasion rather than category. According to Nielsen Research, small, regional producers such as those located in FLX have been the strongest performers of recent years, with an off-premise sales growth rate of 30% in 2017. Despite this expansion, drinker familiarity with cider remains a work in progress, and so the New York Cider Association (NYCA) works to give it increased exposure. NYCA Executive Director Jenn Smith said , “Cider is an important part of New York’s farm-based food culture. Drinkers are still learning that premium cider, made from New York apples, is being grown and fermented right in their backyard. Cider Week has been very effective at educating people about cider, upending misconceptions about cider always being sweet, and underlining the connection that cider has to the orchards where families enjoy U-pick apples in the fall.”

The outcomes of the FLX festival will be deepened awareness of FLX as an apple- and cider producing region, increased visitation, and economic stimulation based on both tourism and a boost in craft beverage sales.

About New York Cider

With more cideries than any other state (90 and counting!), a thriving apple industry, historic orchards, and a reputation for being the source of quality craft beverages, New York is the national cider industry frontrunner in terms of quality, scale, reach and economic impact. New York Cider Association works to advance that leadership, with the twinned objectives of developing New York Cider’s market position and strengthening the viability of the New York cider industry. To learn more visit newyorkciderassociation.com .

About Cider Week New York

Cider Week was launched by Hudson Valley-based sustainable agriculture not-for-profit Glynwood in 2011 as a way to connect trade professionals to farm-based cider producers in the region, while also increasing public awareness and appreciation. Now produced by the NYCA, Cider Week has grown from a series of marketing events for producers and retailers occurring in New York City and the Hudson Valley, into a series of four regional festivals throughout the state. To discover other cider weeks, visit ciderweeknewyork.com .

Community Support

NYCA’s production of Cider Week FLX is possible thanks to the contributions of our sponsors, all important members of the regional cider community: Cider In Love, Finger Lakes Cider House, Goodnature, and Vance Metal.

For media & press inquiries, please contact NYCA Executive Director Jenn Smith, 917.714.4274

newyorkciderassociation@gmail.com

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.

 

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.