It's Cider Season
Steve Selin prunes his apple trees at South Hill Cider.
Photo by Heather Ainsworth, courtesy of Steve Selin
What else besides changing leaves, crisp mornings, and football make us think “autumn”? Cider, of course!
South Hill Cider
Cider maker, apple picker, and community orchardist Steve Selin owns South Hill Cider in Ithaca. In business since 2013, he says its apples come from wild trees, abandoned orchards, and orchards of high-quality cider apples.
“Using traditional cider-making techniques, we create timeless, well-balanced ciders. Our orchard is on a peaceful hilltop as part of a harmonious ecosystem that relies on diversity and fertility as its foundation,” Selin says. “South Hill Cider produces ciders with individuality, quality, and elegance reflecting the terroir of the Finger Lakes region.”
Selin’s land is protected with a Conservation Easement, which will protect the land from subdivision and development in perpetuity. The land adjoins 182 acres of Finger Lakes Land Trust and Cornell Preserves, and is located on the Finger Lakes Trail.
South Hill cider is available at both Lexington Co-op locations, Paradise Wine, and Gates Circle Wine and Liquor. They can ship orders to locations in forty states, including New York.
BlackBird Cider Works is a pioneer in the craft cider movement. It was one of the first farm-based hard ciders in Western New York, where it has grown from virtually nothing to the robust category it is today.
President Scott Donovan says, “Craft hard cider is generally made in small batches with the care of a craftsman and using the best local ingredients available. For BlackBird Cider Works, we use mostly fruit grown in our commercial orchard.”
“I had a professional career, which often involved international travel. I saw that hard cider had been a popular beverage in countries like England, France, and Spain during visits and also saw people were making it in the Puget Sound area when I lived there in the early 2000s,” Donovan says.
“I decided I wanted to learn how to become a commercial fruit grower and make hard cider, and, in 2006, I purchased the 37.5 acre orchard that overlooks Lake Ontario. I learned how to grow high-quality fruit and sell into the commercial markets. I started making cider recipes right away.”
Stop by the Lake Ontario Tasting Room in Niagara County catering to customers interested in enjoying and learning about ciders.
As of this writing, plans are in the works to open an urban location, Buffalo Cider Hall, in Buffalo’s historic Black Rock neighborhood. Located in the newly renovated Linde Air Building, more than thirty ciders and beers will be on tap.
Mullers Cider House in Rochester is a craft cider bar serving local and imported craft hard ciders and delicious local and seasonal food.
The self-described “cider guys” don’t make cider. Co-owner Patrick Jaouen says, “We are a cider bar with over 100 bottle varieties and twelve draught lines of all cider, including a huge selection of New York local ciders that are indeed made from New York apples. We do, however, make our famous kettle corn in house!” You can choose an artisan seasonal variety or a classic sweet and salty option.
Also available is a food menu that features cheese and charcuterie boards, panini, soups, and salads. Paired with a cider, any one of these choices should please your palette.
If you’re looking for something other than cider, mead is certainly worth a try.
According to 810 Meadworks’ website, “Made with honey and dating back to Biblical times, mead was probably the first fermented beverage.”
Owners Bryan and Larissa DeGraw were living in New Jersey and looking for a change, along with a way to move to Western New York to be closer to family. Bryan DeGraw has extensive experience with home brewing and making mead, so he and Larissa were thinking about starting a meadery and tasting bar in Western New York.
“At 810 Meadworks, we make mead with black currants, pomegranates, cucumbers, coffee beans, ghost chilis, tea leaves, peppercorns, and lavender,” they say. “If you think you don’t like mead, you probably haven’t found the right one yet!”
Meadworks’ tasting bar is located in a former shirt factory in historic downtown Medina. Described as “a stylish and relaxing cross between a tasting room and a brewpub,” they say it’s the perfect place to enjoy mead by the glass, as well as their own handcrafted fine chocolates and other locally-sourced fare.
Judith A. Rucki is a public relations consultant and freelance writer. Readers may contact her via the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org with ideas for making the golden years sparkle, sizzle, and shine.
South Hill Cider
560 W. King Rd.
Ithaca, NY 14850
BlackBird Cider Works
Lake Ontario Tasting Room
8503 Lower Lake Road
Barker, NY 14012
Buffalo Cider Hall
155 Chandler Street
Buffalo, NY 14207
Mullers Cider House
1344 University Avenue
Rochester, NY 14607
113 West Center Street
Medina, NY 14103