Finger Lakes Cider House
The origins of Finger Lakes Cider House lie in the Good Life Farm, a diverse, certified-organic 69-acre farm established in 2008 by Melissa Madden and Garrett Miller. Back then, the fields were all in corn, wheat and soy; nowadays, they boast vegetables (asparagus), animals (turkeys, geese, cows, horses) and orchard fruit (peaches, pears, and apples).
Cider-making operations began in 2013 with the addition of Matt Gordon and Jimmy Miller (Garrett’s brother) to the team. (The ciders were originally marketed under the name of the farm, but by early 2017 they were bumping into trademark issues with “Good Life” and have thus rebranded to the current name. Same people, same juice.) The classic New York heirloom, Northern Spy, figures prominently, but a host of other cultivars abound: old English varieties like Dabinett, Chisel Jersey and Margil; culinary apples such as Cortland and McIntosh, and nearly-forgotten New England varieties like Funkhouse (Ben Davis) and Baldwin. These gnarly, organically-cultivated trees root in the fertile but shallow glacial soils over shale bedrock that slope gently down to the western shore of Cayuga Lake.