Good Life Cider

Good Life Barrel Rye Wins 2017 Good Food Awards!

More about the Awards and our Traditional Method Orchard Cider

What are the Good Food Awards?

Criteria, with which we concur

The Good Food Awards were created to redefine ‘good food’ as being tasty, authentic and responsible. We aim to set criteria for entry that are realistic and inclusive of food and drink producers who have demonstrated a commitment to be part of building a tasty, authentic and responsible food system, going far above and beyond the status quo for their industry, while not making them so strict that eligible participants are limited to a small handful of products. The Good Food Awards reviews and revises its category criteria each year under the supervision of its Committee Members to ensure that the criteria advance with the advancement of each industry. The Awards are rooted in a belief that by being inclusive, our American food system will more closely embody the principles of tasty, authentic and responsible more quickly.


• Food is delicious, bringing joy to those who consume it.
• No artificial ingredients are used.
• Food is an expression of tradition and culture.
• Seasonality and locality are valued in crafting of food.
• Respect and fair compensation are core values within the production chain.
• Ingredients are grown without synthetic fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides and are GMO free.
• Growing practices are chosen to promote healthy soil and biodiversity.
• Local ingredients are utilized wherever possible.
• Water and resource conservation and recycling are practiced.
• Transparency and honesty is practiced with consumers.
• Direct, face-to-face communication is sought out between growers, food crafters and everyone else in the production chain.
• Good animal husbandry is practiced and farm animals can eat and behave according to their natural instincts.

How We Fit

Good Life Cider is an expression of Good Life Farm.  Good Life Farm is a wildly diverse small organic farm where we focus on Good Soil to create Good Fruit and Good Cider. Two of our ciders- ‘Cazenovia’ and ‘Honeoye’- are named for the main soil types on the farm.

Good Life Farm is owned by Garrett Miller and Melissa Madden, who work alongside a delightful and dedicated crew.  Our orchard is young, and we use a mix of our own high-brix organic apples and those sourced from nearby Finger Lakes orchards. Good Life Cider comes from the hearts and minds of the Brothers Miller- Garrett and Jimmy form a dynamic duo to turn FLX fruit into your drink.

Our ciders are distinctly American in style, which means we’re not afraid to borrow from the world of traditions. Good Life Cider creatively blends international influences with a taste of the Finger Lakes through our mineral-rich, acidic apples. Our cider line ranges from tannic and dry to bright, fruit-forward and sweet; in sparkling, traditional method (champagne) and barrel-aged styles.  Our range is based on traditional bittersweet apples and sharp, acidic heirloom fruits. 

'Barrel Rye' highlights the fabled NYS-native Golden Russet apple, balanced with the tannic influence of bittersweets 'Yarlington Mill', 'Dabinett', and 'Tremlitt's Bitter'.  'Barrel Rye' is a barrel-aged, traditional method cider, with natural bubbles from a second in-bottle fermentation.  We disgorge all our bottles here at Good Life Farm and age for several months with cork and cage before releasing each vintage for sale.

Where to try 'Barrel Rye'

In honor and gratitude, we offer free tastings of 'Barrel Rye' through February, right here!  Drop by any day of the week (we are still open 7 days a week through the winter) and tell us you want to explore Good Food.

How to get 'Barrel Rye'

Buy it here!  We will always have it on our shelves, and you can taste it for free!

Not in our area and can't stop by?  We'll ship!  Order on our online cider store.

Looking for it now?  Email us for locations in upstate NY and the New York metro area!


Good Life Farm Interlude

Thoughts on life, farming and the vertical integration between farm, cidery and Cider House... Good Life Blog Share.


We are refreshed. We are determined. We see and we set the way forward. We believe this, and we are joyful though we have considered all the facts.  We are citizens, we are farmers and we are hopeful.


Cider House's 2016 Thanksgiving Cider Guide

2016 Thanksgiving Cider House Guide: Options For Everyone At Your Table

Take 3 Home for 10% Off

Thanksgiving, who’s ready for it?  In the spirit of helping you enjoy this holiday in the best possible form, we’ve got 5 ciders from the Cider House pantheon for your table!  Some to start the day, some to front end the meal, some to pair and to finish…


FIRST UP: Greetings and Nibbles

Perry Pear (traditional method) from Eve’s Cidery.  750 mL bottles $19, MAGNUMS $32


MEALTIME: Options for all comers

Still (no bubbles)

Solstice Still from Black Diamond Farm, 750 mL bottles $16

Stone Fence Farm from South Hill Cider, 750 mL bottles $24


Natural Bubbles

Barrel Rye (traditional method) from Good Life Cider, 750 mL bottles $18

Porter’s Perfection/Golden Russet (bottle conditioned) from Redbyrd Orchard Cider, 750 mL bottles $25


DIGESTIF: Relax and Sip

Good Life Pommeau features Myer Farm Distillery custom-distilled apple brandy and 60% fresh juice from Golden Russet and Brown Snout. 375 mL, $25


Black Diamond's Porter’s Pommeau is a single-varietal pommeau focused on the bittersharp Porter’s Perfection.  It packs a more spirit-heavy punch with ripe apple notes.  500 mL, $30


Deep Context for Your Cider Story-Telling


Perry Pear ‘15

Eve’s Cidery

Some of the best ciders we have made are from pears. Unfortunately, our Perry Pear trees are young, few and fickle. But 2015 was not only a wild apple year, it was an on-year for wild seedling pears. They stood out in the fields and hedgerows in and around Van Etten. Ben Kahn, who also picked wild apples for us in 2015, made his fortune in pears. His luck is that we found that virtually all wild pears make great cider fruit, so there wasn’t the picking, mulling over and going back process that layered the wild apple project. The wild pears were, to a tree, shockingly tannic; those tannins emerging much softened in the cider. Fermentation also seemed to transform the fruit from cool, closed-up packages to brilliant aroma wheels. Another boon for Ben was that some of the wild pear trees were huge. From one unusual tree alone he picked 40 bushels. I wouldn’t have climbed up there, but Beni Kahn looked happy enough swaying around high above the ground. All told, almost all of the pear fruit was wild harvested – around 150 bushels. We took scion wood from four of the standout seedlings and budded them onto rootstocks planted in the spring of 2016 in our new Valley Orchard. This may be the long term legacy of the 2015 fruit year. But for now there is the cider, disgorged in July of 2016.

To purchase for Thanksgiving, we’ve got 2 options…750 mL bottles and magnums. Magnums are fun and celebratory. Bring a magnum of wild harvested perry, and you'll be the life of the party. 1 magnum serves 4 and no one has to get up and open another bottle. The pear is insanely aromatic, but light and delicate. I would definitely choose this as a starter for Thanksgiving. Serve it with appetizers or snacks. Fresh fruit and brie, or some other creamy bloomy rind cheese would be just about perfect. For a light snack pairing, Autumn recommends popcorn.



Solstice Still ‘15

Black Diamond Farm and Cider

Ian and Jackie have been growing apples and making cider at Black Diamond Farm for 25 years now, and Solstice Still Cider is a fond return to their Yankee heritage.  Like all BD ciders, Solstice is a complex blend. Two old time New England apples—Golden Russet and Roxbury Russet—dominate this cider with characteristic russet qualities of soft tannins, rich aromatics, and bright acidity.  Some traditional English bittersweets—Chisel Jersey, Brown Snout, Porter’s Perfection, and Dabinett—round out the palate providing depth and structure.  Every apple and the wild yeasts that helped create this cider live alongside us here on the farm.  Ian and Jackie are grateful to have lived long enough to see millions of people rediscover cider and share their passion for this gift from nature!  The whole BD crew gives thanks for the abundant harvest and warm autumn weather of 2015 that made this cider possible. As the year winds down and winter approaches, let’s celebrate the amazing diversity of apples that enables cidermakers to create blends that embody two continents and three thousand years of the history shared by apple trees and humanity.



Stone Fence Farm ‘15

South Hill Cider

Stone Fence Farm is a single orchard cider celebrating just the kind of apples and relationships you find in the Finger Lakes. The Stone Fence Farm orchard was planted by Peter Hoover in Trumansburg from 1995-2000. All of the fruit from this orchard (except for a few of the trees that Peter used for other products) was harvested ripe, sweated in a cider shed, and pressed as an orchard blend at South Hill Cider, less than a mile away. Peter chose all of the apple varieties in his orchard with an eye towards hard cider production. Because of extreme weather events all of the trees have synced so that the orchard bears a crop about every other year. Color of a vintage golden gown. Very balanced and expressive. Aromas of wet slate, rich soil, breadcrust, starfruit, lychee, with a mouth-watering finish. Stone Fence Farm pair well with your main dishes, and can help folks pick cider over a still, white wine.



Barrel Rye ‘15

Good Life Cider

Barrel Rye features Golden Russet, Margil, Tremlitt’s Bitter, Yarlington Mill and Dabinett. Golden Russet is a major highlight in this year’s cider pairings, building on the bounty of 2015.  Barrel Rye highlights this dual-purpose apple (used for both eating and cider) and makes great use of its fruit-forwardness.  We built this cider to stand up to the mixed, savory flavors on the Thanksgiving dinner table using heirloom and bittersweet apples and the smokiness barrel aging and creamy bubbles of traditional method, disgorged on-farm by our family-based crew.



Porter’s Perfection/Golden Russet ‘15

Redbyrd Orchard Cidery

We were very fortunate to have such a plentiful harvest last year in 2015 and to harvest enough fruit from these two exceptional cider apples to make this dual-varietal cider.  It highlights Eric Shatt’s all-time favorite apple- Porter’s Perfection. Porter’s Perfection is a late season English bittersharp loaded with tannins and bright acidity, while holding all the classic bittersweet apple characteristics including earthy, herbaceous aromas, dense fruit and incredible texture and mouthfeel.  This combines with the opposite side of the cider spectrum when blended with Golden Russet. Golden Russet’s tropical fruitiness, honey comb, viscosity and weight creates a cider of our dreams!  All this fruit was organically grown and grown by the Redbyrd family at their farm and from a few trees on a friend’s farm in Hector.  Bone dry and bottled conditioned, it is the perfect cider for this celebratory season that we are entering. Enjoy!

Resting To Reignite A Sense Of Curiosity

Seasonal Interlude With A New Friend

For the past two days- Wednesday and Thursday- I've been swept away by what I've come to call a core-mission experience. Simran Sethi came to town to share her book "Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love", which we carry here at the Cider House with pride.  Simran's book focuses on agricultural biodiversity and how this affects flavor, sense of place and food stability.  Among other things.  There's a lot out there to read about both Simran and her wonderful book, and my aim is not to repeat that necessarily, but to continue to share with the Cider House and Good Life Farm communities how this kind of reading, writing and discussion circles back to spark our passion for what we do here.

Please do check out Simran, "Bread, Wine, Chocolate..." and find her where you are!

Listening And Contemplating Amidst Much Doing

First stop- Simran's lecture on Wednesday night, brought to us courtesy of the Cornell Plantations Fall Lecture Series.  Sitting in the audience was the first time in 2 months I'd sat and sustained a quiet, listening pose.  September-November in the cider world is pants-on-fire, between the bookends of FLX Cider Week (Oct 1-9), NYC Cider Week (Oct 21-30), and all the harvest, pressing, fermenting, tasting room hosting, etc that goes on at our farm in a busy Finger Lakes fall.  These times are critical to our business and we do our best to keep up and provide our customers and employees with a truthful and rich experience to keep us all grounded.  It is a time to say "Yes" and take every opportunity to get out into the world with cider, with ginger, with beef, before we all hunker down for a northeast winter.  In the midst of all this comes Simran and her rejuvenating message, and so back to the Statler Auditorium. 

I find a direct and essential connection to Simran's work in the frequent decision making here at Good Life Farm, and continue to be reminded just how far we've come on the strength of our belief, our willingness to compromise and our youthful naivete. 

Walking The Right Livelihood Path: Every Decision A Compromise

When it came time for Eric (Redbyrd Orchard Cider) and me to talk, I realized that despite being there ostensibly to talk about cider and preserving apple varieties, I could easily discuss many farm conundrums, and chose to illustrate the painful decision around turkey breeds we faced each year.  Quoth one of our mentors regarding heritage breed turkeys "they will ruin your high tunnels, they will ruin your marriage, they will ruin your life".  And so, uncharacteristically, we chose NOT to take on the challenge of breeding and raising only heritage breed turkeys.  In actuality, the minute the broad breasted whites and bronzes hit our farm we found them to be active, curious animals who didn't at any point become catatonic on their way to processing weight.  When holding up the permaculture ideal and trying to carry this biodiverse torch, each compromise that involves a nod back to industrial breeding seemed like a huge burden to bear.  Except, it was really hard enough.  On the agricultural side organic, day-range turkeys moving throughout an orchard and asparagus polyculture is a beautiful, productive system.  On the financial end, the intense labor and high grain prices produce an endless series of question marks, so many that this year we took a turkey-raising break.

Luckily for me, I wasn't at Simran's talk to problem solve these issues as much as acknowledge and contemplate.  On Thursday, we followed up the Wednesday Plantations lecture with an intimate Community Writing Circle, Discussion and Happy Hour here at the Cider House.  This workshop was among a few we've held that are small, free, and content-rich without having a sales focus and they truly light my fire.  We sat in a circle, sipped hot toddies of sweet cider and Pommeau, and followed Simran through her process for writing about food (read, love) and were challenged to write our own food story.  Precious time spent in a more restful and thoughtful period that I could have wished for in this hurly burly season.  Again, I found myself writing about the food aspect of Good Life Farm and our challenges in growing food in such an idealized bio-extensive system.  I continue to realize how this farm is intended for the second generation of farmers here, who will enter into a land base of well established trees, a solid herd of cattle, and maybe some clarity around raising poultry. 

Til Next Time

At this moment, a lot seems unclear and in flux.  The Cider House has made it possible to run this as a full-time family operation but still entails 80-90 hr work weeks, which leads me to wonder where that second generation is going to come from.  Instead of just worrying, the past two days of reconnecting to my personal "why" for all of this provides me with a tool for analyzing and discussing it with myself, with Garrett and with our team.  And, in the midst of the exhaustive season of harvest and cider sales, I am awake!  Thank you for the visit, Simran.  Looking forward to sharing more on this topic.

Quality of Apples... Fundamental

How Do We Define What We Do? Does Anyone Care?

This week both Autumn of Eve's Cidery and I (Melissa) of Good Life and the Cider House appeared in a article on cider.  We had hoped for a discussion on what makes orchard craft cider like fine wine- starting with the intention behind growing the fruit to the fresh, seasonal nature of pressing to fermentation in steel and barrel.  National attention is gratefully received, as getting the word out about our tiny segment of the craft cider market is difficult.  We also had concerns about the tone of this particular article where we were pitted against other cider producers who opt for different packaging and an approach more like beer.  Here and now, let me say: We are not here to pick fights.  What we are here to do is practice an agriculture we believe in, produce high quality fruit and make a distinctive alcoholic beverage that expresses all the complexity a well crafted cider can offer.  There are lots of comments on's page indicating people felt that the article judged their choices, with some great internet lashing out towards "snotty" cider producers.

Blind Tasting one another's ciders at the Cider Maker convo

Blind Tasting one another's ciders at the Cider Maker convo

What We Are, What We Want You To Know

Back to roots in the ground, as it were.  The top pic happened in the midst of all this internet commenting... as a number of us small NY, VT and MA small cideries gathered in person, in real time to take 24 hours to discuss our side of the cider industry.  Things we share: We all grow apples.  Some of us run highly diversified farms in addition to growing apples and making hard cider.  Some of us also run tasting rooms (think Good Life Farm and Finger Lakes Cider House, for one).  What we want our customers- current and potential- to know: We believe that a well-managed orchard is a beautiful, historic and ecological essential to the agrarian landscape of the Northeast.  The Northeast is an AMAZING place to grow apples!  The Finger Lakes doubly so!  We want the chance to share the taste of our place and our efforts uniquely with you.  We want you to value the type of agriculture practiced on behalf of complex, interesting, diverse cider.   Let us instead refer to Wine Advocate's recent blog featuring both Good Life Cider and Eve's Cidery... featuring an in-depth take on Good Life's 2015 Cazenovia and Eve's 2014 Northern Spy, 2013 Perry Pear and unreleased 2015 Kingston Black.

We Are On A Long Term Trip

The Cider Maker gathering was a spin off from a group of organic apple growers who meet each March for 24 hours, every year for 20 years.  We sit in a circle and have an informal conference about the issues we are facing from production to marketing and sales to labor and always, to economics.  Only some of this group makes cider, so the sub group meets similarly now in August, but so many of the conversations are still based on fruit production.  Dwarf, semi-dwarf?  The cost of high density orchards requiring irrigation in a drought year vs the long term slog towards a productive semi-dwarf orchard over 15 years?  How much stress on the trees is beneficial to the high intensity fruit we need for good cider?  When does the conscious orchardist intervene for the long term health of the tree?  Are we constantly making enormous mistakes with our orchards?  Will we know in 10 years, or will it take 20 to see?

So, do folks care enough about this to buy our products?

We think so, we hope so.  We see it in the Cider House every day as we go through a tasting- people are curious about cider.  Wherever one is at on their path in cider, in food, in agriculture, we all have something to learn.  We hope that through visiting us and tasting with us, our customers and friends will understand and appreciate our approach to cider and agriculture.  Yes, we personally enjoy drinking our own stuff!  And we like to see (or blindly taste) the long process of building a family farm, presented to our nose and palette in the glass.  What we hope you'll take home with you: Cider pairs well with foods, and dry cider most especially.  You may find your own cider "home" in an off-dry this week and a semi-dry next.  We will try to make a cider that expresses our orchard and satisfies you.


Excited for the 2016 Season to Break Open!

Reporting on the state of constant change here at FLCH

Likely if you were here for dinner last Friday (April 22nd), you noticed one of the many changes on tap in the Cider House.  We introduced table service, as opposed to our former "pub style" service where one wrestled to the bar to order.  Over the past year, we've come to terms with the melding of Tasting Room-Bar and Restaurant, and are more ready to live up to it... largely by dealing with seemingly mundane details like how to submit orders to the chef.

As said by one of our new staff members when interviewing for the Cider House " seemed like farmers trying to figure out how to do hospitality."

Yup.  Let's not pretend it wasn't.  But hear ye, hear ye, we are up to the Challenge!  After being blessedly overrun all last season, we took the winter to reconsider and revamp.  And now, we're introducing Table Service, a new menu pending, a fantastic executive chef, and an expanded, super talented staff.

Meet our staff- tireless veterans and earnest new hires

Gratitude floweth from Garrett and myself (Melissa) to those who've now put in a full year with us and are signed up for another!  They know... it all.  And we welcome with such open arms... 6 new staff to bring us to a total of 15 Finger Lakes Cider House/Good Life Farmers.  Whew!  Introducing in order of time spent working here, and with titles as requested by the staff (spice added by us):

  • Jimmy (co-Cider Maker, Good Life Cider)
  • Teddy (distro/housemade pickles et al/assistant bookkeeper)
  • Matt (GLF High Tunnel Manager/Farm Assistant/Music Booking/Sign Artist)
  • Brud Holland (consulting Exec. Chef/chef @ Fox Run/Finger Lakes Made owner-chef)
  • Chris (Tasting Bar staff/Black Diamond assistant Cider Maker/orchardist/nursery-man)
  • Alexis (erstwhile Tasting Bar sub/nursery-woman/Black Diamond crew)
  • Silene (Tasting Bar staff/potter for whatever Cider House asks/singer)
  • Audrey (wandering artist/Char and Cheese Board Monger/Tasting Bar staff)
  • Adriana (Tasting Bar,but sadly, graduating and cutting out/dog lover)
  • Joseph (Tasting Bar/soil scientist going to PSU/farmer)
  • Brad (conversation mapper/Tasting Bar/watercolor artist)
  • Hannah (Tasting Bar staff/forage guide/yogi)
  • Jenny (massage therapist-in-training/Tasting Bar/gets stuck on dishes)
  • Hope (frequent sub in Tasting Bar/multi tasker extraordinaire/fiddler)
  • Valerie (new FLCH cook/Tasting Bar on occasion/engaged!)
Conversation mapping about Customer and Staff Communication

Conversation mapping about Customer and Staff Communication

Our first Spring 2016 all-staff training was last night, Wednesday.  Herein follows a tiny photo diary of the conversation maps (re: touchy feely problem solving with results) and trainings by all 5 of our collaborating cideries: Good Life Cider, Black Diamond Cider, Redbyrd Orchard Cider, Eve's Cidery and South Hill Cider.

Eric Shatt of  Redbyrd Orchard Cider  tasting out Workman Dry, Starblossom and Workman Semi-Dry.

Eric Shatt of Redbyrd Orchard Cider tasting out Workman Dry, Starblossom and Workman Semi-Dry.

Garrett and Jimmy barrel-tasting  Good Life Cider's  current and to-be-released

Garrett and Jimmy barrel-tasting Good Life Cider's current and to-be-released

Steve and Ellyn of  South Hill Cider  pouring the whole catalog to date

Steve and Ellyn of South Hill Cider pouring the whole catalog to date

Jackie and Ian of  Black Diamond Cider  making it fun!

Jackie and Ian of Black Diamond Cider making it fun!

And to be comprehensive... new hires on the Good Life Farm.

Jonathan, first calf for Forest (red mama).  Calf 3 of 6 this year for  Good Life Farm

Jonathan, first calf for Forest (red mama).  Calf 3 of 6 this year for Good Life Farm