We have a new piece of equipment, a Seppi M, that’s been a long time in the works. It’s a flail chopper and we’re calling her “Sofia,” because she’s Italian and she chews ‘em up and spits ‘em out (branches, that is).
February is the real start of an apple-grower’s year because in February, we start pruning. This February, we also made a last-minute decision to go to CiderCon, the annual conference for hard cider makers. Between those two activities and being outside to enjoy our (real) winter every day, there’s no such thing as cabin fever for us!
CiderCon was great. We got to meet a lot of folks in the industry, like Shawn Carney, the guy who supplies us with our scion wood, Nikki Rothwell and Dan Young from Tandem Ciders, and Charles McGonigal from AeppelTreow Winery & Distillery – all of whom are folks doing great things with cider and cider apples.
A cider conference, huh? Sounds like a good excuse to drink cider, right? Well, that’s true, but there were also a lot of sessions that didn’t involve any imbibing whatsoever like sessions on pasteurization, filtration, yeasts, kegging, and advanced fermentation. We were especially interested in the sessions about cidery facilities as we figure out how to expand the size of our tiny pressroom to accommodate fermenters.
We got to visit two well-known cideries while we were in Ithaca: Bellwether Hard Cider and Eve’s Cidery. The owners of both graciously spent a lot of time with us, telling us about their processes and facilities and helping us plan our next steps. A stop to Bellwether was up first.
Bellwether’s a quick jaunt up the lake from Ithaca. We met with the owner, Bill Barton, and one of his employees, Yann, to get a tour, learn what we could, and to taste their full line-up! We spent most of our time back by the fermenters and the bottling line, hearing a little bit about Bellwether’s history and plans for their future (they’re starting to make wine from grapes). After that we went back to the tasting room to try everything (they have ten varieties) and talk some more about cider business.