By Christopher Matthews
It has been a tough year and half for just about everyone, and that light at the end of the tunnel seen this past spring has dimmed considerably in recent weeks, unfortunately. But despite the difficulties and setbacks during this pandemic, the craft cider scene in the Hudson Valley continues to grow apace, a decade-plus renaissance that is reaching critical mass in terms of volume and distribution. It is part of the cider sector explosion in New York State, which has grown 450% over the last ten years and sports the largest number of cider producers in the U.S. (over 140), according to the New York Cider Association.
As an ueber local cider fan and (non-commercial) cider-maker, it was a great honor to be tapped to write the lead article for the recently published 2021 Hudson Valley Ultimate Cider Guide, which shines the spotlight on 19 cideries across the Hudson Valley and Capital Region.
My assignment was to break down what goes inside that glass (or can) of local cider. I broke it down into apple choices (i.e. those that work best for cider); orchard practices; the process to get the apple must; the cellar work (re: fermentation); styles and flavors in the final products; and finally, the packaging of the product. The associated graphic cleverly explains the flow of the article:
One of the most exciting aspects of the Hudson Valley scene, and a tribute to the local cider producers’ longer-term perspectives, is the increase in cultivation and production of true cider apples, be they American heirlooms, like Golden Russet or Black Twig, or classic European (mainly English and French) cultivars, such as Dabinett and Kingston Black. Just as quality wine comes from wine, not table, grapes, great ciders involve particular traditional and heirloom varieties, which were in short supply in the Hudson Valley not even a decade ago, despite being a major apple-growing region. This transformation has been quite remarkable, and is leading to exciting, world-class results.
A toast, then, to Hudson Valley craft ciders, and fingers crossed for a quality (and copious) apple harvest for the 2021 vintage!