Chat the fruits of 2015 with SH Cider-Maestro Steve Selin
There is a perennial discussion that crops up among cider-makers about how to define the type of ciders that we make. One key that defines our ciders is that they exhibit terroir. Terroir is how a region’s climate, soils, topography and even genetics affect the flavor of a cider, wine or food.
We (myself and comrades in this corner of the cider world) strive to make ciders that showcase terroir; to make ciders that can only taste the way that they do if they are made in that particular region. In this pursuit we respect the fruit first, as that is the link between the soil and the glass. Growing, foraging, and harvesting fruit of the highest quality is essential for the production of our ciders. Pressing it at peak ripeness and allowing it to ferment with attentiveness, yet minimal intervention is the open secret which takes years to master.
The three ciders that South Hill Cider is releasing this month all exhibit terroir.
Packbasket Still and Dry cider is produced from 100% wild seedling apples, otherwise known as pippins. These showcase terroir because not only are they all from the same season here in the Fingerlakes, but they are from trees that have been feral here for many generations. The apple trees that were originally planted here, as far back as the 1700s, have been going to seed and reproducing ever since. These wild seedling trees have gone through natural selection for over 2 centuries and are a natural representation of feral Fingerlakes apples. Many of these trees are so far from any road that they must be hauled out on our backs - hence the name Packbasket.
Stone Fence Farm is a single orchard cider. The 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 our cidery 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.
Old-Time Cider showcases apples from abandoned trees on homestead farms. There are thousands of old apple trees throughout our landscape and many of them are heirlooms which have excellent flavor for cider. These apple varieties were chosen by the farmers who planted them for their flavor and not, like some of the more modern varieties, for their ability to ship long distances. The name Old-Time is a nod to both the cider-makers from past generations who used these trees for their own cider and to the style of music which Steve plays called American Old-Time music.