South Hill Cider is owned by Steve Selin and is located both in Hector and on Ithaca’s South Hill (most production will occur on Sirrine Rd. in Hector/Trumansburg). Steve studied Natural Resources Conservation and Forest Biology, receiving an MS from Virginia Tech Forestry Dept. studying soil ecology. Virginia is where he apprenticed with Arthur Connor the violinmaker. Steve is an active musician playing stringband music around the region and is a luthier restoring and making string instruments. You’ll be able to catch his tunes at the Cider House on some Fridays and during events!
South Hill Cider focuses on fruit first. Like good wine, great cider starts with great fruit, and SH sources many apples and pears from wild trees, abandoned homestead orchards, and fruit coming from small high quality orchards growing interesting cider varieties. Steve treats the cider as gently as possible, allowing the cider to ferment at cool fall and winter temperatures, and to clarify itself with time. Some South Hill ciders mature for months or more in wine and whiskey barrels, while others are bottled from stainless steel tanks for more fruit forward profiles. Steve looks first at the fruit and helps it realize its highest potential.
Most of the trees that Steve has been tending are older than he is. Mostly they are wild trees or from abandoned orchards. They are usually unnamed varieties or ones that farmers planted 100 years ago such as Northern Spy and Rhode Island Greening. Managing these trees often involves much clearing of shrubs and dead branches - as well as pruning trees to help increase the health and flavor of the fruit. One orchard that Steve is working with is “One of a Kind” orchard in Lansing where the owner Ray Reynolds planted over 400 varieties of heirloom apple trees. Another one is a nearly 100-year-old orchard of King and Baldwin trees in Danby that tower at least 45 feet tall.
South Hill’s own holistic orchard is just getting planted, and is currently Full Bloom Orchard. It will likely be called South Hill Cider Orchard once it is producing. This new orchard is just four miles south of the Ithaca Commons. This land, being so close to Downtown Ithaca, is under intense development pressure. In 2014 Steve purchased the land after helping the landowner protect this land with a Conservation Easement. This will protect the land from subdivision and development in perpetuity. The land adjoins 182 acres of Finger Lakes Land Trust and Cornell Preserves and is located on the Finger Lakes Trail.