How Do We Define What We Do? Does Anyone Care?

The following is a repost from the Finger Lakes Cider House blog written by Melissa Madden, She wrote it as a response to the recent Slate article “Why Artisanal Cider-Makers Hate the Fizzy Stuff Sold in Six-Packs”

Other than the inflammatory title, I actually don’t think the article said anything controversial.

I mean really. But Melissa does a good job here of explaining what orchard based cider is about.

How Do We Define What We Do? Does Anyone Care?

by Melissa Madden

This week both Autumn of Eve’s Cidery and I (Melissa) of Good Life and the Cider House appeared in a article on cider. We had hoped for a discussion on what makes orchard craft cider like fine wine- starting with the intention behind growing the fruit to the fresh, seasonal nature of pressing to fermentation in steel and barrel.

National attention is gratefully received, as getting the word out about our tiny segment of the craft cider market is difficult. We also had concerns about the tone of this particular article where we were pitted against other cider producers who opt for different packaging and an approach more like beer.

Here and now, let me say: We are not here to pick fights. What we are here to do is practice an agriculture we believe in, produce high quality fruit and make a distinctive alcoholic beverage that expresses all the complexity a well crafted cider can offer.

There are lots of comments on’s page indicating people felt that the article judged their choices, with some great internet lashing out towards “snotty” cider producers.

What We Are, What We Want You To Know

Back to roots in the ground, as it were. The top pic happened in the midst of all this internet commenting… as a number of us small NY, VT and MA small cideries gathered in person, in real time to take 24 hours to discuss our side of the cider industry. Things we share: We all grow apples.

Some of us run highly diversified farms in addition to growing apples and making hard cider. Some of us also run tasting rooms (think Good Life Farm and Finger Lakes Cider House, for one). What we want our customers- current and potential- to know: We believe that a well-managed orchard is a beautiful, historic and ecological essential to the agrarian landscape of the Northeast. The Northeast is an AMAZING place to grow apples!

The Finger Lakes doubly so! We want the chance to share the taste of our place and our efforts uniquely with you. We want you to value the type of agriculture practiced on behalf of complex, interesting, diverse cider.  Let us instead refer to Wine Advocate’s recent blog featuring both Good Life Cider and Eve’s Cidery… featuring an in-depth take on Good Life’s 2015 Cazenovia and Eve’s 2014 Northern Spy, 2013 Perry Pear and unreleased 2015 Kingston Black.

We Are On A Long Term Trip

The Cider Maker gathering was a spin off from a group of organic apple growers who meet each March for 24 hours, every year for 20 years. We sit in a circle and have an informal conference about the issues we are facing from production to marketing and sales to labor and always, to economics. Only some of this group makes cider, so the sub group meets similarly now in August, but so many of the conversations are still based on fruit production. Dwarf, semi-dwarf? The cost of high density orchards requiring irrigation in a drought year vs the long term slog towards a productive semi-dwarf orchard over 15 years? How much stress on the trees is beneficial to the high intensity fruit we need for good cider? When does the conscious orchardist intervene for the long term health of the tree? Are we constantly making enormous mistakes with our orchards? Will we know in 10 years, or will it take 20 to see?

So, do folks care enough about this to buy our products?

We think so, we hope so.

We see it in the Cider House every day as we go through a tasting- people are curious about cider. Wherever one is at on their path in cider, in food, in agriculture, we all have something to learn. We hope that through visiting us and tasting with us, our customers and friends will understand and appreciate our approach to cider and agriculture. Yes, we personally enjoy drinking our own stuff! And we like to see (or blindly taste) the long process of building a family farm, presented to our nose and palate in the glass.

What we hope you’ll take home with you: Cider pairs well with foods, and dry cider most especially. You may find your own cider “home” in an off-dry this week and a semi-dry next. We will try to make a cider that expresses our orchard and satisfies you.