Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Village Voice: Profiles Adam & Eve Cidery (NY)

Autumn and Eve: How the State's Cider Industry Has Changed Over the Last Decade
The Village Voice
Kayt Mathers
When Autumn Stoscheck received her cidery license in 2002, she was just 21 years old -- and the State Liquor Authority told her she was the youngest person in New York State to hold a license. So, unlike many of the producers now jumping into the game, this is the only career she's ever known.

Making cider, Stoscheck explains, was a commercial outlet for her love for orcharding, which she discovered while working on a farm when she took a break from college. "I thought, if I can have a career pruning apple trees, that's what I want to do," she says. "So how do I do that?"
She got her answer a short time later, when Farnum Hill founder Stephen M. Wood appeared on the cover of a trade magazine. Wood grew apples just for cider-making. "I couldn't believe it," says Stoscheck. "I drove up to New Hampshire and met him."
Wood took her under his wing, teaching her what he could about what was then an incredibly nascent industry. Soon, Stoscheck was grafting his trees into her own orchard, located on a family farm in the Finger Lakes. In 2002, Eve's Cidery made its first run.
Stoscheck later met her husband, Ezra Sherman, through the cidery; their mothers knew each other, and they suggested Sherman, a lawyer by training, volunteer to help out one season. He was a home winemaker, so he took to the job quickly. The pair now run the cidery with their partner, James Cummins. Today, the trio has about 20 acres of apples in production, grown specifically for fermenting cider. They adhere to organic farming methods, though they aren't certified. And they produce about 6,000 gallons of cider a year, most of which is pressed during harvest season (September through November).
Eve's Cidery will be in New York City for Cider Week, which runs from October 24 through November 2. Check out the Cider Week website for event details.
How would you explain cider to a newbie?
This is a beverage made from the fermented juice of apples. Apples are to cider as grapes are to wine.
Tell me a bit about building your business.
My goal was to earn a living pruning apple trees. I started the business with money I'd earned from waitressing -- I'm kind of an anti-capitalist, so it was weird to be a business owner. We have a working farm in Appalachia, and everything we've bought, we've financed from what we earned that year. It's been very slow. Our production is really small, and it's limited by the amount of fruit we can produce. Growing an orchard is a long-term commitment. It starts with two years of raising the tree in the nursery. Then you plant, and depending on style of planting, you could get fruit in the fourth year, but most likely, you won't get a full crop until sixth, so that's eight years before you're getting fruit. Some are 10 years before you're getting a full crop. You're making an investment in establishing this planting, and you hope it will outlast you in its lifetime.
When we started making cider, there wasn't a cider industry -- the university doesn't have a cider expert in the oenology department. So we're learning to make better cider every year -- and there's a lot more to learn and know. That keeps it exciting to me. Even if we looked to England or France, fruit grows differently here. So it has to be reinvented here.
Why the Finger Lakes?
We're buying the farm from my dad; it belonged to my grandparents -- and my parents live next door. New York state is second in apple production in this country, behind Washington. So there's a long tradition of apple-growing. That's neat. There are little regions around the state, like Ontario, Hudson Valley, and the Finger Lakes. It has the perfect temperate climate, with warm summers and crisp falls, so you get acidity and flavor. There's varied topography. We have two orchard locations, so we have two different types of soil. It's really amazing how different the fruit is from each location. New York has these areas that have distinct soil and climactic conditions. It's a great place for a cider revival -- you can try ciders from different regions from within New York, and they're distinct to where they were grown.
How would you characterize your ciders?
We're fruit-focused. A lot of where we concentrate our efforts is in the orchard, and that ultimately influences your juice. For our sparkling, we use the Champagne method. A lot of cider is force-carbonated, but we sort of feel like if you're going to have a bubbly beverage, it should have wonderful, exquisite bubbles. Natural fermentation in the bottle gives it those tiny elegant bubbles. My favorite cider that we make is a still cider -- we use tannic bittersweet apples, and I really love the aroma, the balance of the beverage, and the tannic structure. It's best enjoyed at cellar temperature. But all of ur cider is focused, clean, and fruit-oriented. And dry -- very dry.
How many varieties do you make?
Seven or eight this year. In 2013, we made more -- we have less apples this year, so we won't have as many esoteric things.
Where does your name come from?
A song by Pete Seeger -- my name is Autumn, and my parents were hippies. But Pete Seeger wrote a song called "Letters to Eve" that uses Adam and Eve as a metaphor for how you approach solving problems in the world. Adam is a pacifist -- he's more resigned, and he says we should just play music and make the world beautiful. Eve is a freedom fighter -- she says we have to create the world that we want to see. So it's my secret feminist take on things. It's also an obvious reference to an apple.
How does seasonality affect your business?
If you are a grower or a cider-maker or working directly with growers, you know that a great cider can't be made from apples out of cold storage any time of the year, nor on a production schedule like beer. We make our cider in the way that a person makes wine -- as you harvest, you are pressing and beginning fermentation.That all happens in three months -- September, October, November. Then you get maturation in the winter, before we create our blends. We'll bottle it to begin secondary fermentation in early spring -- that takes about four months. Then we disgorge to take the yeast out. We let it rest, and then we release it. So we release our 2014 ciders in July of 2015. That doesn't define how all ciders are made -- that's just how we do it, once a year.
Is the cider industry today different from when you first launched, in 2002?
For a really long time, basically until about three years ago, cider has been this thing that people don't know what it is. A lot of our sales have been direct-to-consumer, so it's us giving them a tasting, and telling them what cider tastes like for the first time. That's sort of cool -- think about all the things you have had in your life related to food and wine, and that all gets taken away. You're giving them a thing to taste that they have no context for. And they're like, "Oh, that's good." But it's a hard road to travel down -- every single sale has felt like an explanation of the entire category. But in the past three years, we've seen a tremendous change. It started with people coming up and saying, "Oh, this is cider? My sister likes that" or "I had that at a party." So it was recognized, and now I'm feeling like I'm not having conversations about what it is. Now I'm having conversations about why it's good, how we make it, and what you should pair it with, which are the conversations I wanted to be having at the beginning.
There's still a long way to go. But now, it's maybe less about cider becoming a category that people are aware of, and more about changing the perception of what cider is. The cider that people are the most exposed to is mass-market cider made with only 50 percent apples, concentrate, and glucose; you get it in a pint glass at the bar, and it's cheap, sweet, and fizzy. We're making cider that is an orchard-based fermented beverage that is made from locally grown apples and is very delicious as a dry beverage.
How do you raise awareness?
The idea behind Cider Week is brilliant. One of the reasons why cider's becoming more popular is because cidermakers are talking to their customers. But if we have allies in the trade, they can use their knowledge of food and beverage to educate people. Cider is a great pairing. Cider is a great aperitif. And Cider Week is really brilliant in involving those professionals and applying their knowledge and understanding to cider. Customers are looking to them for guidance and advice. It's been really effective.
Do you think there's an American style of cider?
When people try to define cider in a style -- unless it's something that has a centuries-long history in a certain locale, with a certain variety, and matched to a certain cuisine -- I think it's contrived. The sort of affected styles here are maybe ciders that have a lot of adjuncts added to them -- other fruits or hops, something to flavor the cider with. And people are trying to say that one way of making it is what defines American cider. What's so much more interesting to me -- and this is analogous to wine, because what cider is going through now is what wine went through 50 years ago -- is that more cider-makers are emerging whose main intention is to make cider as a beverage that expresses the region that their apples come from. The cider expresses the fruit and isn't cluttered by these other assets. We're not all making cider in one way or one style. Ezra and I have this philosophy: You can take wonderful fruit and screw it up with your winemaking, but you can't take bad fruit and make good cider. That's our role. Ciders can be really different, but the element that links them is that they really revere the fruit that they're using, and they're attempting to showcase that fruit, not hide it.
What would you like to see happen in this industry?
More people who are making orchard-based cider. People collaborating with each other, sharing ideas, pushing each other. I'd love to see some university get involved and apply some research -- there are a lot of areas that we're figuring out on our own, which is cool, but I see how the wine industry is supported, and I would love that. I would love to see more cider orchards being planted. It's perennial agriculture, and it creates an ecosystem where it's planted. It doesn't tear up the soil. I'm a big fan of orchards. Having thriving orchards in your community makes it a place people want to visit, not destroy, and it gives people agricultural-based jobs.
Any favorite food pairings?
The way that I drink our cider most often is while I'm cooking dinner -- I have a little cheese and a little still cider. Cider and cheese is such an obvious pairing. Sweet ice cider with blue cheese. Semi-dry with sharp-aged cheddar. Tannic still with aged gouda. And then you have obvious pairings that are traditional -- crepes, or seafood. I make a dish often that's mussels, garlic, and tomato cooked down in cider. Generally, great tannic ciders present something not found in the other beverage categories -- they're palate-cleansing with mouth watering acidity, which helps get rid of palate fatigue. Tannins stand up to richer, fattier foods -- and that offers advantage over red and white wine in certain situations.
What are your goals?
I have three. First, to grow our business a little bit more to the point where it's more financially sustainable than it is now. That means doubling production capacity, but keeping us in the same farm and equipment. The second is an artistic goal: I want to make what I sort of imagine in my mind's eye as the most amazing cider. It's an abstract vision for me, but I'm probably honing in on the elements that it has and then achieving that in the orchard and cidery. And the last is something we're already neck deep in, and that's to have our cidery also be sustainable in the sense that it's not just burning through resources. We're working on getting the cider switched over to renewable energy sources, and we're halfway there. Organic production is very important to us. So it's to be able to have a thriving agricultural-based business that's also viable for the environment.
What are your plans for Cider Week?
We're doing a dinner at the Farm on Adderley in Brooklyn, and my husband Ezra will be down there talking about cider-making. We're also doing a couple of tastings, and a lot of staff chats. We're talking with our customers about ciders so they're more excited.
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014



Michael Wangbickler - Marketer - Editor - Wine Educator

Before moving to California wine country a decade ago, Michael Wangbickler knew virtually nothing about wine. Oh sure, he knew which was red and which was white (most of the time), but he was no expert by any stretch of the imagination. He does, however, have an obsession for the good life and that certainly includes wine.

Undaunted by his ignorance, he threw himself into learning everything he could about the subject and now holds a Level 4 Diploma in Wine & Spirits from London-based Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET), is a WSET Certified Educator, and a Certified Wine Educator (CWE). They even let him teach now. In addition to teaching wine appreciation and WSET classes, Mike is also in hot demand at conferences around the world and presents on wine and food, and social media. While he hates the word “expert”, he is Balzac’s social media whiz. We just call him “expert” behind his back when he’s not listening.

Mike currently holds a position (not sure whether it’s warrior pose or downward-facing dog) at Balzac Communications and Marketing in Napa, California. He is lead instructor at Discover Wine & Spirits Academy where he teaches WSET Level 2 and Level 3 certification courses in his spare time. In addition, he is also President of the Board of Directors for the non-profit advocacy organization, Drink Local Wine Inc.

Michael is a great guy and a believer in Local Wine. I am a big fan! - C. DeVito, Editor

Hudson Valley Wine: Hidden Gem of Local Wine
Through The Bung Hole
Posted by Michael Wangbickler
Oct 13, 2014

It’s Drink Local Wine Week 2014, and we kicked it off with a trip to TasteCamp in Hudson Valley, New York. For those in the know, New York is one of the top five wine producing states in the nation. When most people think of New York wine, however, they would most likely choose the Finger Lakes and maybe Long Island. Hudson Valley wine wouldn’t be high on their list. Well, I’m here to tell you that they make some pretty damned decent wine in Hudson Valley.
Is it the caliber of Napa Valley or Willamette Valley? Well, no, probably not. They still have some growing up to do; ironically, since they claim the oldest continually operating winery and oldest planted vineyard in the country.  They haven’t quite found their identity like the Finger Lakes has with cold climate varieties such as Riesling and Long Island has with Bordeaux varieties such as Merlot and Cabernet Franc. Cold climate varieties show a lot of promise, as do several hybrid varieties. Cabernet Franc could also be a contender.

That said, they have all the right ingredients. First, they are in the backyard of the biggest wine market in the country. By far, New York City is the 800 pound gorilla when it comes to the wine business. But, because they are so close, Hudson Valley wine has two major advantages: access and price.  Second, they have enthusiastic winemakers who work together to promote the overall Hudson Valley wine community. I was told by Yancey Stanforth-Migliore at Whitecliff Vineyard that they frequently meet with other winemakers to taste and critique their own wines. Third, they’re not afraid to ask for help. Several wineries we visited use outside consultants from the Finger Lakes, Long Island, and beyond. Ben and Kimberly Peacock of Tousey Winery regularly consult with Peter Bell at Fox Run Winery, arguably one of the best producers in the Finger Lakes area. And finally, they aren’t trying to be something they’re not. Unlike many wine regions who emulate Burgundy, Bordeaux, or Napa, by planting Chardonnay and Cabernet everywhere and try to produce “international-style” wine, Hudson Valley wines seem to embrace their uniqueness, whether intentional or not.
The attendees to TasteCamp had the opportunity to taste dozens of wines. The following are some of the standouts.

Millbrook - Hudson Valley Wine

The converted barn at Millbrook Vineyards & Winery.
Millbrook Vineyards & Winery
In 1979, John Dyson, former New York State Commissioner of Agriculture, purchased the old Wing Dairy Farm and converts it to wine production. A few years later, in 1985, Dyson hires winemaker John Graziano and Millbrook Vineyards and Winery is established as a commercial winery. Today, the winery farms roughly 140 acres, which probably places it among the largest in the Hudson River Region.  The winery is a converted barn and is really something to behold. It’s rustic, yet it really works for the area. I liked their Proprietor’s Special Reserve Hudson River Region Cabernet Franc 2012 ($30) and Proprietor’s Special Reserve Hudson River Region Chardonnay 2012 ($25).

Winemaker Kristop - Hudson valley Wine
Winemaker Kristop Brown with a little intro for TasteCamp attendees.
Robibero Family Vineyards
Harry and Carole Robibero purchased their 42 acre estate in 2003, and began making their own wines in 2007. Today, their winemaker, Kristop Brown, is pushing the Robibero family to grow and improve. They are small now, but have plans for gradual grown, and will be planting a new vineyard soon. I liked the New York State Cabernet Franc 2012 ($40) and the New York State Traminette 2013 ($19).

Benmarl Winery
Overlooking the historic Hudson River Valley, it’s 37 acre estate lays claim to the oldest vineyard in America. The winery also holds New York Farm Winery license no.1. Matthew Spaccarelli is Winemaker and General Manager, and he makes arguably the best Cabernet Franc I tasted all weekend. I liked the Seneca Lake Semi-Dry Riesling 2012 ($17.99) and the Ridge Road Estate Hudson River Region Cabernet Franc 2012 (N/A).

Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery
Michael Migliore and Yancey Stanforth-Migliore literally built Whitecliff Vineyard & Winery from the ground up in what was an empty field thirty years ago. They built the winery, they planted the vineyards, and they made the wine. They have a sweet story. They are both avid rock climbers and met each other while climbing the nearby Shawangunk Ridge. The ridge can be seen from the winery, and is the inspiration for the name of the winery. I liked the Estate Bottled Hudson River Region Cabernet Franc 2013 ($22.95) and New York Riesling 2013 ($16.95).

Tousey Winery - Hudson valley Wine
Tousey Winery may be humble, but they make damn good wine.
Tousey Vineyard
Tousey Vineyard began as a family-run enterprise (and still is today) by Ray Tousey. The winery is now run by Ben and Kimberly Peacock – Ray’s daughter.  They are kind of the new kids on the block, but as such they bring a more modern sensability to a pretty traditional area. Kimberly and Ben are young and enthusiastic, and it shows in their wines. Their strong suit is their Rieslings, but they are make reds under a second label. I liked the Estate Grown Hudson River Dry Riesling 2013, Estate Grown Hudson River Riesling 2013, and Estate Grown Hudson River Reserve Riesling 2013. I don’t think the 2013 wines are officially released, hence no prices listed.

Hudson-Chatham Winery
I’ve known owner Carlo DeVito for years. He was largely responsible for organizing TasteCamp this year. Quite frankly, he has a screw loose, but you’ll never meet a nicer guy. He’d give you the shirt off his back if you asked for it. But, he’s also a brilliant marketer and built Hudson-Chatham Winery into a powerhouse. His signature grape? Single Vineyard Baco Noir. I kid you not. And it’s good! I’ve had the privilege of tasting through several vintages and several vineyards. they are really unique and something to seek out.

There were also several creamery visits, a distillery tour and tasting, and some sightseeing around the Hudson Valley, but that is a tale for another post and perhaps another blog.

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On Thursday, October 9, 2014, Brotherhood Winery celebrated its 175th year in business. This momentous occasion not only held incredible significance for Brotherhood as a Hudson Valley institution, but also for the New York wine industry, which celebrated nearly two centuries of wine production — an impressive feat for any New World wine-producing region.
The Hudson Valley is said to be the birthplace of American viticulture and American wine tourism. Brotherhood was one of the very first commercial wineries to operate there, releasing its first vintage in 1839. They were also among the first to operate cellar tours, and their wine cellars among the oldest in America.
In the last five or six years Hernan Denoso helped over see the construction of the new Monarque Ballroom, the attendant patio, and the reconstruction of the old winery as well as building the newest parts of the winery. Brotherhood is not only the oldest continuously operating winery, but also among the largest on the east coast with an approximate tank value of 1 million gallon capacity. Hernan's office is above the bottling line (three be exact in one room), and says it's not a good day when his office is quiet. They rarely are.
At almost 1 million gallons, Brotherhood is one of the largest wineries on the east coast. Not only do they make wine at their facility, they also make wine for dozens of smaller wineries around the state, and are a bottling hub for many west coast brands who find it easier to ship mass quantities in bulk to Brotherhood for bottling. Brotherhood is a commercial winery on a grand scale.
Bob Barrow is Brotherhood's winemaker, and is a proficient winemaker, adept at making almost any kind of wine.. His wines are clean, and delicious. I personally love his Rieslings and his Pinot Noir, but his Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, as well as his Chardonnay, are all very good. He is an undiscovered gem at Brotherhood. Mark Daigle is also a key component of the winemaking team, making sure everything runs smoothly and on time.
The real star of the evening was the winery itself. The Grand Monarque Ballroom is among the most sought after wedding reception venues in the Hudson Valley, and the waiting list is, in some instances, is more than a year long. And with good reason, it is among the most beautiful halls in the valley, and the courtyard outside is spectacular.

It also boasts the largest and most well-appointed tastingroom in the Hudson Valley, and possibly the east coast.

The event brought out the who's who of New York wine and politics. Mayors, state representatives, as well as wine personalities were everywhere. Lenn Thompson of the New York Cork Report, as well as author Bob Bedford (who penned a whole book on Brotherhood's history), as well as winery owners from up and down the valley.

Colleen Maired Hughes

 The Stopkies of Adair Vineyards and the Migliores of Whitecliff Vineyards.


Author Bob Bedford.

Randy Schwartz Maduras

Bob Bedford and Linda Pierro of Hudson Valley Wine magazine.

Doug and Maryellen Glorie of Glorie Farm Winery

The folks from Demerest Hill Winery and Distillery

Tim and Diane Moore of Imagine Moore Wine. Though based in the Finger Lakes, Moore has long been a consultant to Brotherhood.

Stephanie Wagner, Sales & Marketing, Brotherhood

The illustrious Luis Chadwick and his partner Pablo Castro, are two of the main dynamos that have vaulted Brotherhood not only into modernity but into the forefront of East Coast wine, were both in attendance, handing out congratulations to those on the ground who had done the hard work. Philip Dinsmore and Hernan Denoso were both lauded. And well deserved it was. The Chilean based entrepreneurs, and wine portfolio magnates, have chosen Brotherhood to be their flagship American powerhouse, and the two have completely changed the face of the winery.
The countless millions they have invested and turned this ancient winery into one of the most modern on the east coast, and one of the busiest. Now with a Walmart-sized building that holds nothing but wine, every visit shows the winery abuzz with industry, and packed with wine. And trucks moving the product in and out. Mark Daigle keeps the place humming.

Brotherhood is now positioned and poised to last another hundred years. With its gleaming stainless steel forest of tanks, its three huge bottling lines, its countless vineyards, and its army of sales folks, Brotherhood can be found in almost every store on the east coast. And the wedding destination it has become means the grounds and buildings will be well taken care of. And of course means that Brotherhood will continue to be a big player in the future of east coast winemaking.
Congratulations to all! To another 175 years!
Read the book review: