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
For a unique collaboration of your nature and mother nature. We offer full services of design/build of landscapes, including stone work. We will create a low-maintenance, timeless aesthetic solution to your landscaping needs. Completely insured, references available upon request. BBB member, A+ rated.
Hudson Valley Foot Associates' board-certified podiatric physicians and surgeons are intensely trained in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of all disorders and diseases of the foot and ankle. We offer state-of-the-art treatment options and technology in our six offices conveniently located in Ulster, Dutchess, Orange, Delaware, and Columbia Counties.
52 Old Farm Rd., 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.
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
Explore history in Columbia County’s gateway to heritage tourism. Take a walking tour of 26 historic homes and sites, hike the Dutch Heritage Trail, visit the home and burial site of Martin Van Buren, discover fun for all ages. For directions and events visit
Furniture restoration, and repairs. Chair caning and seat weaving. Established in 1986. Fully insured. See also under “Carpentry & Custom Woodworking.”
Consulting, design, and construction services for your landscape and home. Outdoor living space, additions, renovation. Please see our website and contact us. Fully insured, significant references. BBB member, A+ rated.
Rhinebeck at a Glance is designed to bring the Rhinebeck area to you wherever you might be. Rhinebeck at a Glance is just that connection; imagine being connected to your community, events, municipalities restaurants, publications, weather, libraries, train schedules, movies, real estate, the surrounding tourism sites of Dutchess County and more—all in one bookmark click. Anne Brown, Publisher.
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
"Hudson Valley Mediterranean": Traditional and innovative dishes made with local/seasonal ingredients. Great ambiance, friendly/attentive service, and outstanding food. Zagat reviewers say: "Where the Mediterranean offerings are delicious. Crisp, creative, individual Skizza, risotto, and homemade pasta are highlights. . . " See our specials online daily or for catering info call 845-758-8060.
6422 Montgomery St., Rhinebeck
Vintage Five & Dime with a special Knitting Shop. Carrying various yarns and supplies. Toys, household needs, crafts and so much more.
13 East Market St. , Rhinebeck
Poison Ivy Patrol is the only company that exclusively removes the notorious Poison Ivy; the one invasive weed that almost everyone is afraid of going near. After 5 years of serving Ulster we are expanding into Dutchess County.
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
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
Got rot? Home improvements & repairs of all types, painting & staining. Historic restoration specialist. Furniture restoration. Serving the Hudson Valley since 1986. Fully insured.