Monday, August 29, 2016

What gives cider depth

I have seen old overgrown orchards of Liberty, Goldrush and Freedom dotting a steep hillside. And I have seen well-maintained high-density orchards of Yarlington Mill, Somerset Redstreak and Stoke Red.
If the cider industry and apple growers don't understand how the former can produce much more complex cider than the latter then I weep for the future.  
-to be continued in comment section, below-


  1. I wouldn't weep, it sounds like you have an advantage over 'the cider industry', and I'm sure you're not alone even if you are in a minority. Complexity will be one of your USP's in that context.

  2. How do you feel about, for those folks starting orchards, interplanting standard trees with dwarf trees, then taking out the dwarfs when the standards get large enough? We're approaching it a little differently - we're planning on making cider brandy from the dwarf trees in the interim, as they won't have the kinds of phenols that create the complexity and depth (and that is for the most part lost in distilling), and then, when the standards start really producing, we'll focus more on cider.

    1. I love the idea of inter-planting rip-outs with trees designed for the next few generations. Bravo for even considering them! The only concern I have is the needs of dwarf vs the needs of real trees. One requires massive intervention, the other requires assimilation. I don't know honestly, but I suspect the standards will adjust 20 years down the line when the dwarfs get ripped out and you abandon the soil CPR. I'm doing the same thing on 4 rows.

  3. Weep all you want, I say bullsheep. There is nothing wrong with the varieties in the former orchard, but I would rather have the varieties from the later. I have made world class ciders from well maintained orchards. Our ciders have won major awards from the biggest cider only competitions in the world. I also have 100+ year old orchards on standard trees and semi-dwarf of the same varieties, I have never seen a statistical difference in chemistry, ever. I also have plenty of wildings growing around the farm in the woods and ditch banks and other places. All of them are no more interesting than a wet piece of cardboard. Well if I was to be totally honest, one of them is as interesting as cardboard with ketchup on it. The reality is why apples are not grown that way is because 9 times out of 10they suck.

  4. I appreciate the opinion! I obviously disagree because where I live most of the seedling apples are more complex that the farmed apples, but undeniably both of our opinions stem from the fact that trees perform differently in different locations. There is no way, for instance, that you could even grow dwarfing trees on my land without severely altering the soil. And yet seedlings do great! But I'm glad to see the nature/ nurture argument applied to another species.
    Again, thanks, I appreciate the opinion.
    Oh, and I'm not saying I wouldn't prefer the "cider varieties" either, just that the conditions of the former can make better cider apples that even cider varieties in another condition.
    It needs to be said: a cider apple is only half defined by the cider variety. The other half is the nurture debate. So it's only half true to call a cider variety a cider apple.

  5. Completely agree 100%. We have planted standard and Bud 118 trees in our orchard and will just wait it out rather than manipulate our soil, install irrigation, and poison our soil with weed killer. In the meantime, I have a small orchard of 75 year old Spies and Cortlands I get to play in every year and have found makes much more interesting cider than anything else I have tried.

  6. Jeez Andy is this what the cider scene is already evolving into, a polar landscape of black and white. Let the cider speak for itself and let the pomace fall where it may. No dogma just good drink! John at Blackduck