This episode of Cider Chat was recorded by Alex Kroh, cidermaker, roving podcast reporter and super duper nice guy in Ciderville
This chat begins with Alex and Melissa and Garett venturing outside to the orchard and the asparagus polyculture planting just south of the cider house. They then walk east down the hill to the new dwarf orchard and talk about the differences between the two planting styles.
In the second half of this chat, Alex and Garrett are in the production space below the tasting room and get into the weeds talking cidermaking technique.
- traditional method (champagne method)
- encapsulated yeast vs. loose yeast
- tank carbonation
- making sweet reserve
- fermentation tanks
- yeast combinations
- and the ciders on offer in the tasting room.
“When I visited the Finger Lakes Cider House in July of 2017, I was completely taken with the vibe of Good Life Farm, which is the on-going vision of Garrett Miller and Melissa Madden. More than just an orchard and more than just a cider house, Good Life Farm is a diverse ecological farm that was designed to do the most good for the land and the community that surrounds it.
Central to their management philosophy are permaculture design principles, a system for managing the human impact on the planet by working with nature instead of against it. The difference between a “conventional” farm and one that incorporates permaculture design principles was immediately apparent to this midwesterner who is used to driving by the country miles of soy and corn. By contrast, Good Life Farm feels like stepping back in time before the Green Revolution transformed the agricultural landscapes of the United States into a patchwork quilt of monocrops with “high tech” petrochemical farming. Instead, Good Life Farm has picturesque orchards interplanted with asparagus, high-tunnel greenhouses downhill from the beautiful ciderhouse, apple trees grown along the contours of the hill, with vegetable rows, ponds and cow pastures interspersed. The methods used at Good Life Farm are decidedly low-tech. They use draft horses to accomplish many of the tasks that a tractor would normally do today. Other animals, such as turkeys, geese and beef cows, help with various tasks like insect control and soil fertilization.”
So what does this mean for their cider?
- Garrett and Melissa believe that by managing the land in this way they can grow apples that are more flavorful than apples grown under other management systems and will translate into better cider.
Another component of their farm that contributes to their cidermaking paradigm is their tasting room. The Finger Lakes Cider House showcases their house ciders, Kite and String (previously Good Life Cider), and three other nearby cidermakers including Black Diamond Cider, Eve’s Cidery, and Redbyrd Orchard Cider. Melissa comments that because these other three cidermakers are tending toward the drier end of the sweetness palate, Garrett and brother/cidermaker Jimmy have created a number of semi-sweet, medium sweet and sweet ciders in addition to their dry ciders to appeal to drop-in traffic from patrons on the Finger Lakes wine trail. This range of cider style varieties gives them the opportunity to experiment with ciders that span the sweetness palate as well as develop some interesting cider styles that you likely won’t find anywhere else, such as a young cider, a royal cider, and a Rosé cider consisting of fermented apple juice and unfermented Riesling and Marachal Foch red wine.
Below you’ll find the map that Melissa and I are standing in front of at the beginning of the chat while we discuss permaculture management zones.
Contact Fingers Lakes Cider House
Good Life Farm website: http://www.thegoodlifefarm.org/
Mentions in this chat:
Other cideries at the Finger Lakes Cider House:
- Black Diamond Cider: https://www.blackdiamondcider.com/
- Eve’s Cidery: https://www.evescidery.com/
- Redbyrd Orchard Cider: https://redbyrdorchardcider.com/
Ask for the following 9 #ciderGoingUP Campaign sponsors – By supporting these cider makers, you in turn help Cider Chat
- Kurant Cider – Pennsylvania : listen to Joe Getz on episode 14
- Big Apple Hard Cider – NYC : listen to Danielle von Scheiner on episode 35
- Oliver’s Cider and Perry – Herefordshire/UK ; listen to Tom Oliver on episode 29
- Santa Cruz Cider Company – California : listen to Nicole Todd on episode 60
- The Cider Project aka EthicCider– California
- Albermale CiderWorks : listen to Chuck Shelton on episode 56
- Cider Summit : listen to Alan Shapiro founder of this cider fest on episode 75.
- Ramborn Cider Co. Luxembourg.
- Big Fish Cider Co. Virginia
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