Sunday, October 28, 2012

Show a little effort

   Yeats once described poetry as countless unseen hours in an effort to create something that appears effortless…

“A line will take us hours maybe;
Yet if it does not seem a moment’s thought,   
Our stitching and unstitching has been naught.”

   Dare I say farming is the same way?  When a farmer markets their product the image they put forth is always ideal: red barns, hay fields, old wooden cider presses, and cows dotting a hillside.  Just look on the package of any food product and you will see exactly that.  But the fact of the matter- and I know everyone knows this deep inside- is that farming is grueling, angry, dirty and disparaging work.  It’s a constant outpouring of physical and psychological energy.

   I was thinking this because when people look at my life they imagine I have the best of both worlds.  I live/work on a beautiful farm and I must be making a decent living… 15$ a bottle, 550 gallons, that’s like $40,000.  But ignoring, of course, the taxes, wholesale, overhead and all the other costs that reduce the income by two thirds (actually even more), what people don’t see is the 15 hour days, day after day, frantically working to wrap-up a task just to start on the next 'urgent job' from a queue of never ending urgent jobs.   

But like all farm products, if it doesn’t appear a simple creation of nature, our pain and struggle will be for naught.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Originality + Craft = Fine

  For those trying our ciders for the first time, let me admit that they might not instantly appeal.  We have aligned ourselves with a very small number of craft cider makers- one or two from each Northeastern state -who have been experimenting for years far beyond the entry levels of Cider 101.  In this cider-for-ciders-sake world it's easy to forget that there is a massive realm of sweetened commercial cider and most people have only those drinks to reference when they see our label.  Rather then mention what our cider is not, let me talk about "fine cider" using the terminology of "fine wine" presented by Matt Kramer, wine writer for the Wine Spectator.
  He writes:  "Originality + Craft = Fine."  (As for the 'Craft' part of that equation, Kramer leaves that for another essay, but it should assumed that the formal skills, the basics, are required in fine wine.) He continues...

"But how do you know if a wine is original? You keep drinking, you keep tasting, you try one wine and then another and pretty soon (if you are paying attention) a pattern emerges. You discover that many wines- too many wines- taste more alike than not. That's your "Aha!" moment because that's when you recognize originality. You have achieved context."
  For Cider, it's pardonable that that context is 'hard' to achieve in America.  This is because there aren't a lot of fine ciders to familiarize oneself with and finding them is even more difficult.  But things are changing for the better.  We are now witnessing a ton of wineries and hipster start-ups (today's dot-coms) enter the cider field and even if 'fine cider' still remains elusive, some of those launches will be listening to the apple rather then popular demand for sweet hard ciders.  Clearly our own ciders stand out on that level, but I want our ciders to stand out amongst "fine ciders" too.  I am certain our Homestead Cider is a shining example of originality but not just from the context of crap ciders, from fine ciders too.
  So I recommend achieving context.  For those who haven't tasted the rainbow, I suggest familiarizing oneself with the Norman, Basque and English West-Country ciders and I'd be happy to recommend those Northeast cider makers too.  Just email me.