The Finger Lakes Cider Alliance just held its fifth ever Cider Week
The week was filled with events that showcased local hard cider and its producers in the region
Eve’s Cidery, one of the cideries showcased, held an orchard tour that showed how they use holistic farming to create unique hard cider
For the fifth year, the Finger Lakes Cider Alliance followed up Applefest with Cider Week. The event focuses on teaching people about the history of hard cider in the region and that hard cider is not wine or beer, but a category of its own.
From Sept. 29 to Oct. 8, over 50 orchards, restaurants and bars came together to offer events that allowed people to learn about the cider making process and taste it for themselves.
What is hard cider?
The Finger Lakes Cider Alliance defines hard cider as a fermented beverage made from apples that like wine, reflects the fruits from where it was grown.
Mass market cider is considered by the Finger Lakes Cider Alliance to be the wine cooler of cider. This is the cider you can buy in a six-pack at the grocery store.
During Cider Week FLX, Eve's Cidery held an orchard tour that allowed people to come experience what makes their orchard different from the other 80 cideries in New York State.
Autumn Stoscheck has been producing cider in Van Etten, NY for 17 years. Her orchard, Eve's Cidery, started out as a u-pick apple orchard, with cider as an add-on product, but now they grow apples exclusively for fermenting.
What Eve's Does Differently
Stoscheck began as a conventional apple farmer. She sprayed chemicals in her orchard to prevent diseases like fire blight and apple scab, but it was when she had her first child she realized that she wanted to switch to holistic farming.
"I didn't bring my daughter to work with me," Stoscheck said. "When I got home I wanted to breastfeed her, and I saw all the residue from chemicals all over my skin, and right then and there I knew parenting had to be a priority."
There is no book or formula to organic apple farming, though Stoscheck noted that there a lot more resources available now than there were when she started.
Stoscheck met Mike Biltonen in 2010 and he has been a big influence in how she has learned to farm differently and more organically. Biltonen has bachelor's and master's degrees in horticulture and runs Know Your Roots, a consulting business for growers, with his wife Debbie.
Biltonen spoke during the orchard tour about the importance of moving away from conventional farming methods and instead focusing on healthy farms, food and people. He noted that farmers have been ingrained to think about the appearance of their fruit; people want large, shiny, unblemished apples.
"We can begin to move in a new direction from the way apples are typically grown," Biltonen said. "With cider apples, you don't have to worry about cosmetics."
Biltonen has been working with Stoscheck to create hybrid trees that will naturally be resistant to diseases like fire blight by breeding traditional cider apple trees with apple trees that are resistant to the disease. They plan to douse the trees with fire blight when they are stronger and see if they survive.
One of the things that Stoscheck is interested in is the terrior of her product. She said that although many people believe that terrior is only found in wine, she and her coworkers at Eve’s are trying to change that.
“All the ciders in this region taste different,” Stoscheck said. “I want mine to be a geographical experience in your mouth.”