Harvest Report – Wet Spring, Glorious Fall for Apples, Pears, People & Cider
While last year's growing season was a dry spring followed by a sopping wet fall, the 2019 season was a reverse. It rained and snowed all winter and spring and stayed wet until early summer. Then, suddenly, like magic, the clouds lifted, the sun came out, the breezes dried the trees and the grass, and we were back to a more 'typical' weather pattern for our region.
By the time fall rolled around we were reveling in the crisp cool nights and warm but not hot sunny days. A glorious fall and the perfect weather for ripening apples – and for working in the orchards.
Come see the farm and have a private tasting. We schedule tastings for most Saturdays at 2 PM here in Van Etten, New York. We would love to see you.
What Makes Good Cider?
Each year two factors play a major role in defining the vintage, or more accurately, the pommage (we are talking about apples, not "vine" fruits): weather and which trees are in the "on-year" in their biennial cycle. In 2019, these two aspects of orcharding yielded a splendid balance of fruits.
While we didn't see the massive crops load of 2017 or 2015, we had a nice mix of bittersweets, bittersharps, sharps, and aromatics bearing fruit on our Albee Hill orchard this year.
Brix, or sugar levels, came in average or slightly above, and acid and tannin levels were neither low nor high. In sum, this year's apples represented the sort of perfect balance that we can achieve here in the Finger Lakes.
Looking Forward to Wild-Foraged Perry
Another defining feature of the 2019 growing season was the massive wild pear crop. Matt Moser-Miller, our cidermaking intern from last year, came back from Ohio to scout, climb, and shake ancient pear trees, while Autumn and Ezra spent any time off the farm ranging around the hilly landscapes hunting for the perfect Finger Lakes "perry" pear.
All in all thousands of pounds of pears were hauled out of the wilderness in sacks on our backs to end up in the cider barn. These will be in the bottle soon!
Paying Attention in the Cidery
The prospect of taking a near perfect crop of apples and turing it into good cider is both thrilling and nerve-racking. There is no magic formula to cidermaking here at Eve's Cidery... no designer-yeast-out-of-a-package-rehydration protocols. We let the yeasts that grow naturally on the fruit do the magical work of converting sugar to alcohol. We keep the cidery scrubbed clean. And we obsessively watch over the bubbling tanks – smelling, tasting, and watching the sugars drop.
As of this harvest report, the process is feeling more thrilling than anything else. Stay tuned to see how these 2019 ciders turn out.
Meantime, We're Drinking 2017 Darling Creek – Have You Tried It?
This fall we're loving the 2017 Darling Creek which you can order online for home shipping. This cider has really come into its own over the last couple of months. It is a great example of how bittersweet ciders can benefit from quiet time in the bottle.
With more vintages – or rather pommages – under our belt, we hope to be able to make recommendations about how long each cider can be cellared. But in the mean time grab a couple of bottles and see for yourself.