The Finger Lakes in New York has become a leading region for craft cider, owing to its unique terroir of glacial soils and climate moderating lakes. Even more important are the growers themselves.
These aren’t the sweetened, flavored ‘hard’ ciders you find at the gas station – we’re talking about an artisanal agricultural product, made in a way much like wine. These ciders express the fruit and the land that they come from and have a wide-ranging versatility at the table.
A common theme from these growers is that they are family farms. Case in point, Ian and Jackie Merwin have been making cider for over 30 years. In 2014, they started Black Diamond Cider, and now their daughter Erica is filling a larger role in the operation. As Ian tells it, selling cider is a way to preserve the farm life they cherish so much.
Another unifying force is respect for the land. At Finger Lakes Cider House, Garrett Miller is running sixty-nine acres of diversified, certified organic farmland. The goal is to “leave the world a better place than you found it.” The absolutely delicious cider is the star here, but there’s also livestock, fruits and vegetables, and plenty of good vibes.
Finally, Finger Lakes cider wouldn’t be what it is without the ideal terroir of the region. Autumn Stoscheck and Ezra Sherman, of Eve’s Cidery, are further inland than many of their peers. They lean into the mountainous climate, embracing the fresh acidity that the cool nights bring. Some of their orchards are accessible by seasonal road only, and they supplement their supply with wild foraged apples they find throughout the region.
Just as with fine wine, Finger Lakes cider is a pure expression of fruit, terroir, and the people making it.
The “terroir” blend made from heirloom and bittersweet apples, fermented slow and cool. Crisp and bone dry, with robust tannins, and flinty mineral notes. Aromas of lime, green apple, and grapefruit. Also available in keg format.
A blend of heirloom, russet and bittersweet apples. This cider aims to hit the delicate balance between sweetness and acidity, while finding depth in its tannic structure. Complex, yet approachable. Bright acidity tempered by subtle sweetness giving way to bold, earthy tannins that linger into a smooth, fruit-filled finish. Also available in keg format.
A blend of traditional “sharp” cider apples, aged with French oak. Tartly elegant with aromas of ginger and green apple. Enlivening acidity gives way to sweet vanilla and spice. Also available in keg format.
Semi-dry. Naturally sparkling via method charmat. Single variety cider featuring the classic native New York heirloom, Northern Spy. Fruit forward and balanced.
Sparkling. Summer honey on the nose. Bold Finger Lakes acidity smoothed with a sweet reserve. Lush ripe apples, thick, creamy and floral. Bright juicy finish.
Dry, Traditional Method. Herbal, buttery, earthy notes on the nose, reminiscent of an empty barrel. This cider is bone dry and austere, with a bright front palate giving way to notes of toasted oak, and ending with long chalky tannins.
Made from an 100% estate-grown blend of “40” varieties (“I don’t really know exactly” says cidermaker Ezra Sherman). Spontaneously fermented in stainless steel.
With a significant amount of bittersweet Somerset Redstreak and bittersharp Krys, this generous cider is backed by juicy acidity and abundant tannin which gives it solid structure and a lingering finish.
Northern Spy cider is made entirely from apples grown in the Albee Hill orchard and shows minerally depth and lip smacking acidity alongside concentrated fruit and serious density (despite its low alcohol) making it another endorsement of this old New York apple variety. Available Late October.