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
Local ~ Organic ~ Delicious ~ Delivered: Fresh, organic meals prepared and delivered for daily, weekly or weekend customers in the Rhinebeck aeea. Pies and breads and scrumptious desserts. Special dietary needs accommodated. Gluten-free upon request. 24-hour notice required. Nancy Southard, owner.
PO Box 320, Rhinecliff
The Desmond Campus for Adult Enrichment is the noncredit, adult ed division of Mount Saint Mary College and is located in the Town of Newburgh. We offer day and evening classes. The L.I.F.E. Program is for those 55+. Day trips are also offered.
Desmond Campus for Adult Enrichment
6 Albany Post Rd, Newburgh
Quatrefoil...Stewardship for your property. We are a residential building and design firm specializing in the restoration and renovation of historic homes. Reach us at the number below.
Vicki L. Haak, CFP®, Financial Advisor, Personal financial planning, including planning for risk protection, taxes, retirement, estate preservation investments and asset allocation.
30 E. Market St., Rhinebeck
Health Quest Urgent Care offers WALK-IN URGENT CARE at two locations for a variety of illnesses with no appointment necessary. Pediatric and adult care. X-Ray onsite. Visit website below for information.
Lagrangeville: 1100 Route 55, 845-454-4455
Hours: Mon–Fri 8am–8pm; wknds 8am–2pm.
Wappingers Falls: 1530 Route 9, 845-297-2511
Hours: 7 days 8am–10pm.
Attorney in Rhinebeck and New York City with thirty plus years of experience. Specializing in Wills, Trusts, Estates, Elder Law, Real Estate Closings, and Tax Grievances, Income and Estate Taxes and Corporate and Business Law. Free initial consultation.
PO Box 343, Astor Square, Rhinebeck
876-4433 or 1-800-845-4403
4200 sq. ft. multi dealer antique center. Antiques, primitives, vintage. 7 days. Surrounded by other interesting shops.
10 Main St, New Paltz
A certified ADD/ADHD and Executive Functioning coach, Catherine works with teens and adults to understand this brain-based condition and its outcomes. Replace defeating behaviors with positive patterns for success. Increase your focus, reduce overwhelm, implement effective action plans, and find a balance with time and task management.
23H East Market St., Rhinebeck
Ann Lombardozzi C.P.E. and daughter Michelle Lombardozzi-Strollo have over 30 years combined experience. Computerized equipment thermyolosis, electrolysis and blend methods. Disposable needles used. Gender friendly. CDC sterilization methods. Electrolysis—the only method of permanent hair removal.
22 E. Market St., #201, Rhinebeck
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
Furniture restoration, and repairs. Chair caning and seat weaving. Established in 1986. Fully insured. See also under “Carpentry & Custom Woodworking.”
Collaborative, strength-based psychological services. Services offered include family, couples, adolescent, and adult psychotherapy, women’s groups, and clinical supervision. Approved Supervisor, AAMFT.
6402 Montgomery St., Rhinebeck
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
Got rot? Home improvements & repairs of all types, painting & staining. Historic restoration specialist. Furniture restoration. Serving the Hudson Valley since 1986. Fully insured.
Garden center, nursery, gift and floral shops, gorgeous indoor greenhouse. Thousands of annuals and perennials from our farm. Also: fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, deli, cheese shop, coffee. Everything fresh & delicious. Family owned since 1919.
1560 Rt. 9W, Kingston