“Believe in the fruit” was an English cider expert’s advice for New York apple growers and cider makers during a 10-day excursion to the U.K. this month. Organized by Glynwood in partnership with Angry Orchard, attendees of the trip were able to gain insights into the operations of the U.K.’s mature cider industry by observing orchard systems and harvesting techniques, while investigating the economics of cider apple production in England. These learnings and insights serve as an inspiring catalyst for growing the cider culture throughout New York.
The group of 12 apple growers, cider makers and researchers from throughout New York State were invited to tour Somerset and Hereford, England’s iconic cider producing regions. Visiting both large and small-scale orchards and cideries, they examined the production of cider-specific apples, which in New York suggests a promising nascent market for orchards to supply the rapidly growing cider community. The excursion was also intended to support innovation and leadership among New York cider makers, with long-term goals for increased orchard viability, as well as quality of their product.
New York cider is well on its way to its own brand of distinction, as evidenced by this delegation’s sweep of awards at the Royal Bath & West Show, England’s biggest celebration of rural life. The international category in the show’s British Cider Championships, new this year, was dominated by New York ciders: 17 medal winners, including the Champion International Cider award won by Angry Orchard (Walden). Awards also went to Eve’s Cidery (Van Etten), Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider (Staatsburg), Rootstock Cider Works (Williamson), and Slyboro Cider House (Granville). Organizers of the competition declared their intention to establish the Championship as an international center of excellence for cider, acknowledging the dynamic growth of U.S. cider production by humorously noting the presence of an “American invasion.”
“Medals awarded to New York cider makers at Royal Bath & West are an important acknowledgement of the quality of our members’ ciders, and shows international recognition of the complexity and appeal of the thoughtfully produced, orchard-based ciders from New York,” said Jenn Smith, Executive Director of the New York Cider Association (NYCA).
The energy and momentum generated by this trip promises to bring continued recognition and growth for New York cider. The contingent will apply their learnings to expand production of cider apples in New York and develop the quality of New York ciders; Glynwood’s Cider Project will aid these goals by facilitating continued collaboration amongst cider makers, apple growers, researchers and beverage trade professionals. A series of activities are being planned including a convening of cider makers and apple growers organized by Glynwood with NYCA and Angry Orchard at which a presentation will be given by participants about their learnings from the U.K. tour.
Jonathan Oakes of Steampunk Cider in New York’s Niagara region was a participant in the U.K. tour and comments: “It was eye-opening to visit producers of various sizes and ambitions. Touring the orchards and cider-producing facilities of Hereford and Somerset has brought a new perspective to the current state of cider production here in the ‘new world.’ The history and culture surrounding cider in the U.K. runs deep, yet the future appears to be divided. I have never been more enthused about the path forward for New York and our ability to stake a claim in the story of the fermented apple.”
New York winners at the Royal Bath & West Show, International Cider Championships
As organizer of the UK tour, Glynwood facilitated competition submissions on behalf of New York cider makers, representing 25% of the 69 entries in the international category:
Champion International Cider: Angry Orchard
Traditional Cider (medium dry/dry):
Gold: Angry Orchard; Silver: Angry Orchard, Eve’s Cidery, Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider; Bronze: Angry Orchard, Eve’s Cidery (2), Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider.
New World Cider (medium dry/dry):
Gold: Slyboro Ciderhouse; Silver: Rootstock Ciderworks; Bronze: Rootstock Ciderworks, Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider.
Bottle fermented and keeved cider:
Silver: Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider; Bronze: Angry Orchard
Spanish style cider:
Gold: Angry Orchard
New World Perry (medium dry/dry):
Silver: Rootstock Ciderworks
Bottle Fermented Perry:
Bronze: Angry Orchard
Participants in the tour were:
- Elyssa Bowen, Angry Orchard
- Ryan Burk, Angry Orchard
- Jeff Crist, Crist Orchards
- David DeFisher, Rootstock Cider and NYCA Board President
- Peter Jensch, Hudson Valley Fruit Lab
- Josh Morgenthau, Fishkill Farms
- Joe Nicholson, Red Jacket Orchards
- Jonathan Oakes, Steampunk Cider
- Greg Peck, Cornell University
- Elizabeth Ryan, Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider
- Jake Samascott, Samascott Orchards
- Autumn, Stoscheck, Eve’s Cidery
- Dan Wilson, Slyboro Ciderhouse
- Joined by Glynwood staff, Sara Grady and Megan Larmer.
All photos by Evan Deitch for Angry Orchard.