Cider Week in the Orchard

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by Maria Kennedy of Cider With Maria

While you are partaking of all the amazing opportunities to taste and drink cider during Finger Lakes Cider Week, take a minute to think about where the apples that were crushed and fermented grew. Consider taking a Cider Week tour of the orchards where it all begins.

One of my favorite things about cider, besides its amazing and various tastes, is that it comes from an orchard. Obvious right? And yet sometimes this simple fact can get lost in the details of culinary appreciation. Orchards can be beautiful places, full of history, and if managed sensitively, wildlife too. Part of the joy of drinking cider is being able to visit the orchard, at least in your mind, and if possible in real life.

Cider Week offers several opportunities to get out into the orchard and see where the whole process starts. The Orchard and Cidery Tours at Black Diamond Farm on Saturday October 1 at 11am and 2pm should be high on your list, because cider maker Ian Merwin spent his career as a professor of horticulture and pomology at Cornell before turning his attention to his cider business. His tour is a short course in pomology, and his meticulously managed orchard is full of interesting varieties.

Ian Merwin at Black Diamond Farm

Ian Merwin at Black Diamond Farm

If apple research is your bag, on Sunday October 2, you can catch tours at the Cornell Orchards at 1 and 3pm and learn about the current research projects Cornell University is undertaking in Hard Cider from 12-4pm.

Visiting the Finger Lakes Cider House is always an opportunity to enjoy the view of the trees that make Good Life Cider. But on Monday October 3 from 6-8pm, you can also hear the about the magic of the apple itself from legendary apple history guru John Bunker of FedCo Trees.

The view from Finger Lakes Cider House

The view from Finger Lakes Cider House

Have you encountered old apple trees in your landscape, but don’t know what they are? Bring them to the Apple Identification and Documentation Day at the Apple Museum in Reisinger’s Apple Country on Saturday October 8 9am-12pm, where Cornell pomologist Dr. Greg Peck and Blackduck Cidery owner John Reynolds will help identify your fruit.

To finish up your Cider Week in the Orchard tour, get to the Orchard Tour and Tasting at Redbyrd Orchard Cider on Sunday October 9 at 11am and 1pm, where you can learn about a biodynamic orchard system and visit the geese and sheep too!


Redbyrd Ochard Cider’s Reynolds Road Orchard.

Once you’ve finished your Cider Week in the Orchard tour, I hope the sights, smells, and sensations of these places continue to linger in your imagination as you sip the final the alchemy of seasons, weather, soil, and artful labor that transforms an orchard into a cider.

Maria Kennedy is the Folk Arts Coordinator at The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes. In addition to her work on the Finger Lakes Fruit Heritage Project, she has kept a blog on the cider world for several years. Visit to read more about the history and culture of cider in Britain and America. She can be reached at and welcomes questions and information on cider and fruit heritage.