credit Margaret Moebius
by Sheila Buff
| credit Margaret Moebius
In colonial times, every good housewife knew how to make cider. Back then, in the days before refrigeration, cider didn’t mean sweet, fresh juice from apples—it meant apple juice that had been allowed to ferment in a wooden barrel until it became cider, a beverage with a low alcohol content (usually around 5 percent). In the Hudson Valley, where apple orchards have been a part of the landscape since the late 1600s, cider was an important product for apple growers well into the 1800s. The growth of urban areas and an influx of beer-loving European immigrants reduced demand for cider over the years, and farm distilleries in the Hudson Valley gradually faded from the scene. Some continued to produce cider, but Prohibition put an end to legal production in 1920. Growers tore out their cider apple trees and planted apple varieties meant for eating and cooking instead. After the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, the demand for cider was still low; burdensome regulations limited farm distilling, and the growers had moved away from cider and cider apples. Cider production languished.
In recent years, however, commercial cider production has made a vigorous return to the Hudson Valley. The resurgence was sparked by the happy confluence of changes in New York State’s antiquated alcohol laws and the eagerness of forward-looking apple growers seeking new ways to add value to a crop that faces increasing competition from imported eating apples. That combination has received a major assist from consumers, who are increasingly interested in searching out unusual and locally made products, and from the owners of wine shops and liquor stores who are always interested in bringing new products to the attention of their customers. Add in some help from the nonprofit sector, and you have a serious comeback in the production of cider and apple spirits in the Hudson Valley.
A number of excellent ciders and apple-based spirits are now being made in the mid-Hudson Valley on the east side of the river. In Columbia County, Harvest Spirits in Valatie makes distilled spirits from the apples and other fruit grown at Harvest Orchards. The distillery’s flagship product is Core Vodka, made from apples; other products include Peach Applejack and Hudson Valley Apple Brandy. The products are available at the distillery tasting room and at a number of wine and spirits shops in the area. 518-523-5917; www.harvestspirits.com
In Red Hook, Annandale Cidery, part of Montgomery Place Orchards, has been making Annandale Atomic Cider since 1999. The historic orchards at Montgomery Place still grow many old-fashioned cider varieties, so Atomic Cider has a lot of apples to choose from when making the juice blend. In cider as in wine, every batch every year is slightly different, depending on the varieties used, how the growing season went, and what happens during the natural fermentation process. The cider can be bought at the Montgomery Place farm stand at the intersection of routes 199 and 9G. 845-758-6338; www.mporchards.com
Breezy Hill Orchard in Staatsburg is well known locally for its excellent eating apples, sold primarily at farmers’ markets and at greenmarkets in New York City. Owner Elizabeth Ryan currently makes Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider, a flavorful French-style cider that must be refrigerated and stays fresh for only a few weeks. Going forward, additional ciders are planned. As the orchard is not currently open to the public, the most reliable place to purchase the cider is at Stone Ridge Orchard in Ulster County. 845-266-3979; www.hudsonvalleycider.com.
Cider Week 2013 in the Hudson Valley
Cider Week, held annually in mid-October (and this year from October 18 through 27) is a project originated by Glynwood, a nonprofit organization based in Cold Spring dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture in the region. Now in its third year, Cider Week is an ongoing and increasingly popular effort to educate the public about America’s oldest drink. Cider Week offers tastings, meals with cider pairings, presentations, and a lot of other fun events, both in New York City and at a growing number of Hudson Valley restaurants and wine and spirits shops. It’s all part of Glynwood’s Apple Project, which seeks to preserve apple orchards in the Hudson Valley by promoting the production of hard cider and apple spirits and working to create markets for these products. As of my deadline, specific events were still in the planning stage; for up-to-the-minute information about these check www.ciderweekny.com. And for more information about Glynwood and the innovative work of the Apple Project, check out www.glynwood.org.
Sheila Buff is a freelance writer living in Milan. She is the author of the Food Lovers’ Guide to the Hudson Valley, published this year by Globe Pequot Press.
Dutchess/Columbia Community Businesses
Enjoy the taste and sounds of Italy in an intimate and warm setting right here in Rhinebeck. Dishes from the Italian homeland with gourmet artistry and local bounty. Call about catering or to book a private party. Find Puccini Ristorante on Facebook. Venite à trovarci presto! Grazie!
22 Garden St., Rhinebeck
Furniture restoration, and repairs. Chair caning and seat weaving. Established in 1986. Fully insured. See also under “Carpentry & Custom Woodworking.”
The Chocolate Factory is the place to come for your framing needs! Renée Burgevin, CPF since 1990, combines a beautiful selection of molding styles and mats with expert design & technical advice, conservation quality materials, and skilled workmanship. Handling repairs as well as new work. Mirrors ready to go or design your own. Offering French matting & calligraphy.
The Chocolate Factory
54 Elizabeth St., Red Hook
Health Quest Medical Practice (HQMP) is a multi-specialty medical group offering Primary Care in many locations: Boiceville, Carmel, Fishkill, Highland, Hopewell Junction, Hyde Park, Kingston, LaGrangeville, Millbrook, Poughkeepsie, Rhinebeck and Woodstock. Specialists within the group include: Behavioral Health, Breast Surgery, Cardiology, Cardiothoracic Surgery, Geriatrics, Maternal Fetal Medicine, Neurosurgery and Spine Surgery, OBGYN, Pulmonary Medicine, Surgery, Thoracic Oncology and Urgent Care. Meet our providers before your appointment by visiting our website and find the right doctor for you. Call for scheduling and information.
The Knitting Garage @ Stickle's, the new knitting boutique! Featuring yarns by: Blue Sky, Spud & Chloe, Madeline Tosh, Shuibui and more! At A.L. Stickle Variety Store: in the back through the red double doors!
13 East Market St. , Rhinebeck
From a box-lunch picnic to a wedding, and everything in between, Red Devon can make your event delicious and memorable. Call 845-677-8757 to speak with Chef Gerard.
108 Hunns Lake Rd., Stanfordville
Life change from the inside out: loving support and guidance during transitions; healing for issues around food and body image; self-empowerment, intuitive readings. Trained with the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.
Pizza, calzones, stromboli, hot & cold & parmigiana heros—and full Italian dinner menu. Homemade sauces, pizza dough, & desserts (cheese cake, cannoli & specials). Directions from 9G: go east at Germantown light and take first left.
85 Palatine Park Rd., Germantown
When it's time for a break from the ordinary! Serving breakfast, lunch & grab & go prepared meals. We thrive to provide high quality food & catering with attention to detail & eye appealing presentation. Espresso and cappuccino drinks. See also, under "Caterers."
One E. Market St., Red Hook
Farm fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, deli, cheese shop, gourmet grocery, delectable baked goods. Garden center, nursery, houseplants. Thousands of annuals and perennials grown on our family farm. Family owned since 1919.
1560 Rt. 9W, Kingston
1845 Federal style house in the village of Rhinebeck. Stroll to shops, restaurants, and cinema. Five elegantly-furnished guest rooms with private baths, air conditioning, gourmet breakfast, with homemade delicacies. Complimentary refreshments.
6487 Montgomery St., Rhinebeck
See main listing in General section under "Art Supplies."
Rhinebeck: 56 E. Market St., 845-876-4922, fax 845-876-3801
New Paltz: 188 Main St., 845-255-5533
The Children’s Medical Group has a distinguished history of caring for the region’s children, with a tradition of excellence, accessibility and caring, offering comprehensive medical service to children of all ages. Kingston office now open; Monday evening hours in Rhinebeck.
Rhinebeck Office Park
187 E. Market St., Rhinebeck
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Hudson Valley Properties, formerly Prudential Serls Prime Properties, is the area's leading real estate company for 22 consecutive years: 5 offices, 2 meeting centers, 225+ sales professionals servicing Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Westchester, Ulster & Columbia counties.
6384 Mill St., Rhinebeck
Before you replace your windows or doors get a free estimate from Hobson. We do it all; vinyl tilt-in insulated windows, bows, bays, casements, patio doors, entry and storm doors/windows, custom wood windows, and porch retro-fits as well as a new full service glass shop. All products are energy tax credit certified.
51 Elizabeth St, Red Hook