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Renaissance Under the Apple Tree

This story, by Susan Novick, published in the New York Times on October 17, notes that "hard cider is trending today," and that there are now several producers on Long Island, including Wölffer Estate Vineyard. Excerpts of the article appear below, and you can read the full story here.
Photo credit: Gordon M. Grant for the New York Times

Excerpts:
Long Island’s new crop of craft cideries and wineries, like Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, Lieb Cellars in Mattituck, and Woodside Orchards in Aquebogue, use fresh, local apples to produce small-batch ciders that range in taste from semisweet to very dry with a crisp, tart acidity. Strawberries, raspberries, ginger and other ingredients are often added to the brew to yield seasonal options, like the pumpkin apple on tap at Woodside Orchards this fall.

Winemakers have also joined the artisanal cider wave. “Everywhere there are apple orchards on Long Island, and when you have such amazing aromatic apples, the first thing you want to do is make cider out of them,” said Roman Roth, a winemaker and partner at Wölffer Estate Vineyard.

Mr. Roth came to Long Island in 1992 from his native Germany, and brought an interest in traditional hard cider and apple wine with him. After 12 years of producing apple wine, he introduced the 2012 vintage of Wölffer No. 139 Dry White Cider and No. 139 Dry Rosé Cider, flavored with grape skin extract. It sold out in five months, and cider production at Wölffer has since tripled.

Mr. Roth chooses from about 10 apple varieties to create each year’s blend, favoring Braeburn apples for their acidity. Care is taken to pick apples at their peak ripeness before they are pressed, at the Halsey cider mill in Bridgehampton each February. The fermentation process lasts two weeks, after which the cider is bottled in screw top glass bottles and sold in whimsically designed four-packs, perfect for an autumn picnic.

“The key is balance,” said Mr. Roth. “The cider is expressive of these wonderful, elegant apples,” he said. “And you can drink it right away. It’s cider; it’s fun to drink.”

 

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