Cider in the Finger Lakes Region
Many of the distinctive ciders produced here are pressed fresh from apples grown in small orchards, steeped in the rich glacial soils of the Finger Lakes.
Orchard-Based “Craft” Ciders
Most Finger Lakes ciders are made from locally grown apples, pressed fresh and hand-crafted to make regionally distinctive ciders. In Europe these would be called “artisanal” ciders, because each region has its unique blends of apples and cider styles. Finger Lakes soils were mostly formed by ice-age glaciers and are rich in organic matter and minerals such as calcium; they produce abundant crops of apples with intense flavors.
Our ciders are usually dry to semi-dry and crisply acidic, textured with fruit derived tannins, and can have subtly complex aromas including many other fruits and flowers. New York is a major apple-growing region famous for its diversity of apples—including many heirloom varieties from the Northeast. We make premium ciders because we grow the best and most diverse apples in upstate NY!
Finger Lakes Terroir
By federal rule, cider labels can’t show a vintage year, though in fact most craft ciders are made from blends of apples harvested in a single year. Regulations also prohibit the words “Estate Grown” on a cider brand label, but many Finger Lakes craft ciders are made from fruit grown from single orchard sites.
As with fine wines, there are distinctive local flavors and styles that define orchard-based ciders, expressing the unique climate, soils, and culture of their region—what the French call terroir.
Cider is the fastest growing beverage sector in America, with consumption doubling every two years since 2000! Much of this production consists of inexpensive mass-market ciders—often sold in six-packs and priced like beers—produced in huge quantities that require apple juice concentrate for fermentation.
Apple juice concentrate is a global commodity sourced from China, Europe, and South America as well as the US and Canada. These mass-market ciders advertise and distribute nationally, providing an introduction to ciders for many Americans, but they are fundamentally different from orchard-based craft ciders.
For the most part, mass-market ciders are made and consumed like beers, while craft ciders are made and consumed like wines.