A six part series looking at cider in the United States and addressing the intense white-washing of history in cider marketing and the industry itself. Deva from Redbyrd… “Looking at recognition of where this land was before we were here and making that a part of sustainable economy is the idea of reparations, the idea of acknowledgement and of a shared wealth. That really is the only way, truly I think, to move forward in any kind of a sustainable way and a way of recognizing what’s come before and how much you can learn from that. We know the word reparations doesn’t test very well and so there’s “better” ways to say it that don’t rise up people’s blood pressure but for us it is super super important. We are unbelievably lucky to be here growing this fruit and it is not because of our own work at all as far as the majority of why. And we think economies, to really be fully sustainable and caring about the climate and the culture need to have that recognition. So this is our small, very small, way of paying our reparations.”
A dynamic conversation all about cider with Eric Shatt of Redbyrd, Autumn Stoscheck of Eve’s Cidery, Jason Wilson author of The Cider Revival, and host Evan Dawson. Great insights into Finger Lakes cider and call-in questions and comments.
Walk through the orchard and press room with Eric in beautiful conversation about apples, microclimate, the economy of agriculture, and love for the land.
Smithsonian: New York’s Cideries Bring the Tradition of Wassailing to the Finger Lakes, December 2019
A group of revelers are seen wassailing at Redbyrd Orchard Cider in New York. (Courtesy Redbyrd Orchard Cider)
But with most celebrations, many of the individual elements of wassailing have evolved over the centuries, with cider makers today adding their own special touches to the event, like incorporating musical instruments into the celebration. However, in the end, the root of the ritual remains the same.“It really stems from the fact that we respect and draw off knowledge of English cider tradition,” Shatt says. “It’s another excuse to celebrate life and enjoy being outside and sing under the stars.” Find out more about this event January 17th event here.
Washington Post: Why Cider, Which can be as complex as wine, belongs on your Thanksgiving table, Nov 2019
“On a brilliantly sunny, crisp autumn morning, I visited Redbyrd Orchard Cider, a few miles from Seneca Lake, not far from owner Eric Shatt’s Finger Lakes orchard. The entire cidery squeezes into a corner of his farmhouse garage, across the road from a red barn full of cows. Wooden crates full of dozens of apple varieties were stacked along the wall, with more in the back of a pickup truck. Inside, Shatt dumped apples from a crate onto a well-worn wooden conveyor belt: red, yellow and green ones, ranging in size from racquetball to tennis ball, some with rough, brownish russeting. The machine rumbled loudly, and Shatt wore protective earmuffs over his knit cap. Over the machine’s noise, Shatt shouted the names of apple varieties that would be pressed for one of his high-end ciders: “There’s a lot of Porter’s Perfection and Wickson Crab in here! Also some Dabinett, Gold Rush, Baldwin, Newtown Pippin! And some Ashmead’s Kernel, Stoke Red and Brown Snout!” …”
“2014 Redbyrd Orchard Cider Celeste Sur Lie …Super dry, brioche-scented, and made by the same method as Champagne, this barrel-fermented cider comes from a biodynamic cidery in the Finger Lakes. A creamy-rich texture helps it stand up to rich food.”
“This cider is so filled to the brim with zesty acid! I love how bright the Celeste Sur Lie tastes. I get fruit notes like overripe apples, seville orange, and pineapple. I’ll think of the acidity as bracing and very true to the regional style. It gets a ton of flavor and structure from both of its fermentations because it’s clean but yeasty. The finish is luxurious and lengthy.”
“..many beverage connoisseurs have yet to catch on to an under-sung sector of wine: cider. That’s right, cider is technically a wine…But the real truth about cider could not be more clear. Its fermentation path is technically akin to grape wine production—juice plus yeast equals alcohol and carbon dioxide—and the whole category deserves to be treated as such…Great ciders are already here, and as more and more people become familiar with the category, the bar for quality will surely rise across the board. So the next time you’re in a wine shop, give more attention to the cider section and be a part of this burgeoning category. Redbyrd 2017 Cloudsplitter (New York); A traditional method cider made from biodynamically grown apples from the Finger Lakes.”
Edible FLX: The Apple Collector, How Redbyrd Brings Soulful Fruit To Every Bottle Of Cider, Aug 2019
“Over the years, Shatt and Maas have brought many of these wild apples into their orchard by grafting cuttings to existing trees. Some of the wild varieties now seem diminished and are no longer as interesting as their mother tree once was. But others have had their flavors intensify, responding quite well to the careful hand of a thoughtful orchardist. Shatt and Maas have even named some of these successful apples: Barn Hill Sharp, Gnarled Chapman, Searsburg Cherry Bomb, Texas King Crab. These apples have made their way into Redbyrd cider, and Shatt would love to see them make their way into orchards all across the country.”
Exploring new producers is half of what makes drinking these wild ciders exciting. But there are certain producers we trust to make ciders we’ll be returning to again and again. Here are six of our favorites…Redbyrd Orchard – Trumansburg, NY…”
“One of my favorites, Redbyrd Orchard Cider’s Celeste Sur Lie, from upstate New York, is dry, sparkling, and a little creamy. The brioche notes make it the perfect partner for a charcuterie board.”
“Next we have Redbyrd Orchard Cider in upstate New York. They were New York state’s first biodynamic cider apple orchard and have quite a few great ciders… For Thanksgiving, in particular, I suggest the Celeste Sur Lie for a nice champagne-style option or their Workman Dry Cider.”
” ‘Sauvignon blanc is tremendously popular with cider drinkers and vice versa because this wine is all about juicy acidity,’ says Bystryn. She suggests trying a sparkling cider called Wild Pippin if this is your favorite type of wine. Expect to taste white pepper, lemongrass, and lime.”
“Contrast that with a session I attended on Thursday called “Champagne Method Cider,” where I experienced several mind-blowing sparkling ciders made by Eden Specialty Ciders in Vermont, Snowdrift Cider in Washington state and two cidermakers from New York’s Finger Lakes, Eve’s Cidery and Redbyrd Orchard Cider. What we tasted was every bit as complex as fine wine, with the same attention paid to the apples as a winemaker would to the grapes. Such varieties as Kingston Black, Yarlington Mill, Dabinett, Somerset Redstreak and even foraged wild crab apples were discussed with the same reverence as pinot noir or nebbiolo.”
Redbyrd Orchard in the Finger Lakes is another that makes Sabine’s short list. “The maker is also orchard manager at Cornell and used to be a winemaker and the vineyard manager, so he’s not only got winemaking chops, but he also knows a lot about growing,” she explains. “He is applying biodynamic principles, no easy feat that far north…” Sabine says his ciders are “high-toned, full of minerality and bright fruit.” While the most-widely available is Workman Dry, she prefer Starblossom, which is made primarily from European bittersweet and bittersharp apples. A portion of the cider is aged in French and American oak for “a full-bodied structure and tannins.”
“From the design of the orchards to the blending of apples, it is clear the alignment of art and science is what drives Eric and Deva. By using the biodynamic method, Redbyrd Orchard has found a way to root itself in the earth while producing a line of ciders with unmistakable quality.”
“…The exploration of single variety ciders by curious and conscientious cidermakers is critical to the industry, particularly in the United States. Understanding how individual apples react to different terroirs only advances the critical knowledge serious producers must build to better understand how to produce better and more interesting ciders.”
“…Shatt and Maas, and their three young sons, live on a bucolic farm with stunning vistas along Reynolds Road that would attract any daydreamer. Yet, the couple make little time for such luxuries. Redbyrd is having a banner year, and thanks to a bumper crop of apples there are high hopes production will double from last year.”
An interesting piece on some of what our cidermaker, Eric Shatt, does at his day job as manager of Cornell University’s orchards and (as a side note, we are huge advocates of wild bee pollination here at Redbyrd Orchard and of Bryan Danforth’s important work, he’s a superstar!!!):
“I think it is obvious that Bryan’s assumption that we have a strong enough wild bee population to adequately pollinate our crop is correct,” Shatt said. “The key now will be to keep our wild bees happy and support them.”
“It tastes like no other cider I’ve ever had. As much as I completely enjoyed each and every cider on this list (and I did) this had to be my top choice. It goes beyond what I thought cider could be. I adored the Wild Pippin’s herbaceous spicy notes. They blew me away. It balanced them with gorgeous sparkle, clean dryness, and great acidity. Redbyrd Orchard Cider did a marvelous thing with their wild gathered apples. I doubt, I’ll ever get to taste anything quite like it again, but I do know that they are working to get some material for grafting from some of these wild trees, so I can hope for a cider with fennel, peppercorn, and basil notes.”
“…What I find hard to describe is how balanced the Wild Pippin tastes while still being so feral and distinctive. I absolutely adore this cider. It really pushes our perceptions and expectations about cider while at the same time being drinkable and incredibly pleasing.”
“…Deva Maas and Eric Shatt, from the mom-and-pop Redbyrd Cidery, talked about gathering wild apples for their cider because they’re acidic and hardy. “If there’s a tree we’ve been going to for years, we’ll propagate it,” Ms. Maas said. “It’s the ‘old-world way.’ ”…”
“…If Ithaca was the epicenter of cider week, the local stars in hard cider making are Autumn Stoscheck and Ezra Sherman of Eve’s Cidery in Van Etten, N.Y., south of Ithaca; Eric Shatt and Deva Maas of Redbyrd Orchard Cider in Burdett, N.Y., between Ithaca and Watkins Glen; and Bill and Cheryl Barton of Bellwether Hard Cider in Trumansburg….Shatt is happy about the up- ward trend in cider popularity, ‘It’s like the wine industry in the 1970s,” he said. “The whole wine industry gave grape growers the opportunity to make farms more profitable.’ ”
Redbyrd Orchard is located in the rolling hills of the Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York, on the traditional Gayogohó:no nation lands of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy. The Confederacy precedes the establishment of New York state, and the United States of America.