Redbyrd Orchard Cider

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.

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



Guiding the Wild Seedling, ending up with Scion Wood to share!

Reposted from our collaborating orchard cidery Redbyrd Orchard Cider!

“Taming” (Grafting) Wild Seedling Apple Trees, propagating new cider varieties…spreading the Love!

Wild seedling apple trees grow well around us in New York.  We find them everywhere, in forests shaded by towering hardwoods, in abandoned fields transitioning from cropland to brush, and especially along hedgerows.  Over the years of discovering, collecting, fermenting and grafting these trees it has become more and more apparent that their value is not only a complex component to cider but is a valuable gene bank for disease resistance.  Every year we graft new selections and increase the “collection” in our orchard.  Some of these trees were grafted 10 years ago and are showing us their production habits in a cultivated orchard setting.  Some seem diminished and not as interesting as their “mother tree” once the young tree comes into bearing.  Others seem to have their flavors intensified and in some ways focused which may be a product of what the culture of cultivated, pruned trees standing in straight rows reveals.  This is interesting and really shows the influence of terrior and the distinctive values of an old tree with deep roots or a tree pruned and planted to maximize sun exposure.   So far all of these grafted trees mirror the disease resistant traits shown by their thriving wild parent.  This is very exciting!!!!!, We have always intended to offer these trees to other growers, and some choice nurseries have already grafted a few of our special selections.

We have grafting wood available now!!! And we want to spread it. 

Email for more details!

Here are our 7 best, most available varieties of wild seedling origin apples, generally named from a road, landowner or distinctive trait.

Searsburg Cherry Bomb – Ripening Mid September, a medium sized crab with moderate acidity, mild tannins, and sweet juicy yellow flesh.  Bright red like a cherry

Ashcroft Bittersharp – Ripening Late September, Sizable apple, moderate to light cropper but strong pronounced tannin and acidity.

Blue House Bitter – Ripening early/mid October, Strong “Wild apple” tannins,  Good fruit size, drops when ripe

Barn Hill Sharp – Ripening mid October, a true Sharp!!!.  This will brighten up any tank in need of Acid.  A large crab, in most cases fruit is larger than 2 in. in diameter.  Naturally well formed tree structure.

Snout’s Perfect – Our first cultivated apple.  A Brown Snout seedling, tastes like a Brown Snout / Porter’s Perfection cross, and our Porter’s and Brown Snouts are next to each other in the orchard from wherewe selected the seed, so a likely cross.  Bittersweet, late season apple. Pretty color and shape.

Gnarled Chapman – Ripening third week in October.  An incredible true Bittersweet!!!!, Soft yet plentiful Tannin, mild acidity, large fruit, partial russet with rosy orange blush.  shy bearer, upward growing tree.

Redbyrd – For the Art, Process, and Discovery

Thoughts on a new season from Eric Shatt...

Come chat with Eric on Saturday, Nov. 28 from 3 - 5 PM at our Redbyrd Release Party!

There is Art in cidermaking!!  The decisions made along the way direct the outcome. The blend of apples planted, where they are planted, when to pick them, how long to sweat them, which ones to press together, how hard to press them, where to ferment the cider ----size and container, barrel or Stainless Steel, yeast, temperature, lees contact, aging, use of sulfites, bulk aging, blending, filter or not, finishing, force or natural carbonation, disgorge, and bottling!!!!!!, plenty of opportunities for the Cider Artist to direct and create the beverage.  The process starts every year as the first apples ripen in late August, and when our crates are full we press the fruit, as important to fill the tanks as to empty the crates.  This process goes round and round until either our tanks are full or our apples are all picked.  We strive everyyear to finish pressing before Thanksgiving, the perfectly placed Holiday to celebrate the “finished” harvest.  Although we often find ourselves chilled to the bone pushing around frozen pomace on rack and cloth in December. Then…….. there is a beautiful lull to this cycle and it occurs in December and January when the cider is naturally clarifying, and our press is cleaned up and at rest until next year.  When we wake from this hibernation we turn our sights to Bottling and pruning in the later winter, and start getting inevitably antsy in February as the sun shines longer and we worry to get everything in place for spring, and growing of the next vintage of Cider fruit. Intertwined in all this is the excitement and promise of discovery.  Newly planted varieties that will bear their first fruits to taste and ferment, a new orchard site that will mirror or show difference in terrior to an older planted site, finding yet another hidden gem dangling along a hedgerow, seeing the first blossoms from a seedling tree that was cultivated and cared for and brought into potential being.  Seeing the color drip for the first time from a press full of Dolgo or Redfield.  Following a lead and walking thru a pasture to an old hidden long lost orchard. It’s the art, process, and discovery that moves me in this whirlwind of cidermaking.

FLX Cider Week buzz begins!

This past week, many of us FLX Cider Week Cideries went on down to NYC to Wassail the City.  We had a blast, and got our annual early October Cider Week FLX off to a good start!

A few highlights:

  • Our very own Call to the Barrel Dinner (Mon. 10/5) is released! Join us for a fantastic menu paired with the whole-room Toasts all night.  Tickets and more info, here...
  • Travel Packages make it easy to enjoy Cider Week October 2- 11, 2015!
    • Cayuga Lake Package features lodgings, transport to FLCH's Call to the Barrel and VIP Orchard Tours, Tastings and Lunch
    • Geneva Package features lodgings, Lake Drum Brewing's VIP Bar Take Over and Dinner with Sam Buyskyes @ Kindred Fare
    • Local Pairings Packages are built around one night near event hotspots!