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Cider Chat

Ria Windcaller: Award winning Cidermaker | Craft Libations Columnist | Podc

Interviewing cidermakers, importers, orchardists, foodies, farmers and cider enthusiasts around the world. Let’s delve into the semantics of cider...or is it hard cider, cidre, sidra or fermented apple juice? The truth is out there in Ciderville and we are going to find it. We toast in celebration of cider; As a libation, a gift from the gods, a taste of terroir, and a hard pressed good time. Ready to quench your thirst? Grab a glass and join this chat! See you in Ciderville!

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Gregory M. Peck of the School of Integrative Plant Science, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York is the featured guest on episode 198.

Greg in Peck lab

Greg’s chat begins at 21:00 minutes into episode 198.

Before Greg’s feature I am reminded by @e_of_blandings That now is the time to pick Medlars. If you have a photo of a medlar please send them my way to and I will in turn post the photos on Cider Chat’s social media, so we can all begin to increase our Medlar know how.

At 8:23 minutes in, I read a letter from Cider Chat Patreon Supporter and Russian cidermaker Maxim Brekht.

Maxim shares:

  • a range of obstacles that commercial makers in his country have to maneuver around in order to produce cider.
  • how the Peter Mitchel class informed him and what he is doing beyond the Mitchell class to improve his technical cider making skills.
  • the Russian palate for cider is not so different from other burgeoning cider communities around the world.

The Feature chat wth Greg Peck (at 21:00)

Greg has been in his role as Professor of Pomology at Cornell, since 2015.

Greg pointing to his door plaque that says, "Mad Scientist" under his name.

Greg discusses his initial research project at Cornell Assessing the Economic Feasibility of Growing Specialized Apple Cultivars for Sale to Commercial Hard Cider Producers

  • A bit on how the money works for grant writing a research project
  • How the United Kingdom has about the same amount of acreage of apples as New York state.

Says Greg Peck, “The cider industry is going to grow very rapidly”

  • What are the best college studies to choose when working towards becoming a pomologist

Find out more at the Cornell Hard Cider website:

Follow Gregory Peck on Social Media

Thank you to the following producers for helping to sponsor Cider Chat’s tour of the Finger Lakes CiderWeek!

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Top 5 Picks for Franklin County CiderDays

Franklin County CiderDays takes place on the first weekend of November every year as it has been for the past 25 years.

Yes, this November 1-3, 2019 is the 25th Annual and the number of events taking place across the county are outstanding.

Download CiderDays schedule

Here are my Top 5 Picks if your time is limited and/or you are wondering what to do during this epic fest.

In this chat we go with #5 to #1

5. 2nd Annual New England Cider Tour October 31st

8am - 6:30pm Start and End point Greenfield, MA

4. Cider Pub Sing 7:30 - 9pm November 1st

9pm The Crowning of Pomona with Judith Maloney of West County Cider

Location: Episcopal Church Parish Hall, the back hall of Saint James Church

8 Church St, Greenfield, MA

3. Cider Salon, November 2nd

3:30 - 5:00 Cider Salon I: Tasting of Ciders from across N. America $35/ticket Unity Park, Turners Falls

5:45 - 7:15 Cider Salon II: Tasting of Ciders from across N. America $35/ticket Unity Park, Turners Falls

2. Peckville Road, Greenfield

Take a drive up Peckville Road and stop at West County Cider and Apex Orchard

Take a walk in the orchard

Views looking out to New Hampshire and Mount Manadnock

#1 Pick if you can only do one thing?

Find the Apple Pretzels in each tree in the orchard at New Salem Preserves & Heritage Cider and see one of the oldest Perry Pear trees in the US!


67 S Main St

New Salem, Massachusetts

Extra Bonus offerings at CiderDays to check out!

Author Book Signings November 2

Ben Watson: Cider Hard and Sweet 2-3pm

John Bunker Apples and the Art of Detection 4:30-5:30pm

Michael Phillips The Hollistic Orchard, The Apple Grower, Mycorrhizal Planet 4:30-5:30

Location: Two Birds

  • 106 Avenue A
  • Turners Falls, Massachusetts 01376
  • 413) 863-5782

Exhibit: 25 Years of CiderDays October 25 - November 6, 2019

Over twenty-five years, CiderDays has evolved to a three day, county-wide festival celebrating the apple in all of its forms and providing sessions on every aspect of apple usage. The Great Falls Discovery Center hosts an exhibition of historic cider presses and images that honor the orchards, producers and enthusiasts who have advanced the art of cidermaking. Sponsored by the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce. November 1-3, 2019. For a full schedule visit:

Great Falls Discovery Center

  • Hours: 10 am - 4pm
  • Free


  • 2 Avenue A
  • Turners Falls MA 01376
  • 413-863-3221

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Audio snap shots of the cider region of Cayuga Lake, a 38 mile long lake located in the Finger Lakes region of New York state.

CiderweekFLX took place September 27- October 6, 2019.

This region has:

In this chat we begin with the origins of the Finger Lakes from Kendall Blizzard the Agriculinary Tourism Marketing Coordinator at Ithaca/Tompkins County Convention & Visitor's Bureaus .

Kendall and I rode about all week long taking in this magnificent cider region and I thank her for her steady driving and good cheer.

Then we meet Beth Duff, Visitor Experience Specialist at Taughannock Falls (215’ tall - taller than Niagara Falls).

Taghannock Falls

Beth Duff - Ithaca got Cider

After our overview with Betty, we next chat with Susanne Messmer of Lively Run Goat Dairy. Her son Pete is making award winning cheeses.

Susanne Messmer - Lively Run Goat Dairy

Our final chat is with Deborah Cooper a Digital and Special Collections Librarian Coordinator of Library Services to Cornell AgriTech, Geneva NY at the Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell University

Here are some essential URLS for cider at Mann Library:

Thank you to the following producers for helping to sponsor Cider Chat’s tour of the Finger Lakes CiderWeek!

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Look close into the label and you will see, words of wisdom, fun and glee! ...There are no surprises, just a straight up fact - this cider contains - 0% Shit

Episode 195 features a chat with John Michael Leslie Edwards, the maker/owner at Fly Be Night Cider, in the United Kingdom. John is also the cidermaker at Ross Cider and Perry Company also in the UK and has been working at their Broome Farm orchard based in Ross on Wye in Herefordshire for the past 20 years.

In this chat we discuss

  • John’s early introduction to fermentation via a Mrs. Wheeler.
  • Having a brand within a brand - which is kind of a secret branding thing and I like it.
  • What’s next for for Fly Be Night
  • How to find Fly Be Night
    • John makes 5 barrels of his cider and it sell out every year.

All of John's cider is bottle conditioned

Say’s John, “The most important thing is to eliminate hurry. With cider making you have to be patient.”

John gifted me this tea cloth - Thank You John!

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Episode 194: The Reason for Being | Ross on Wye Cider & Perry, UK

Mike Johnson grew up on Broome Farm picking up apples with his grandmother, in the rural country known as Herefordshire in the United Kingdom. Thirty Five years ago cider began being made and sold commercially at the farm. More recently Mike and son Albert, who came back to the farm after finishing university to help with their brand Ross on Wye Cider and Perry Company, began working together to continue to build the family's cider profile up with a huge volume of dry ciders and perrys.

Mike seeing a smiling Talking Pomme looking back up at him.

And it should be mentioned that, Albert’s younger brother, Martin is in hospitality and it looks like there is a very good possibility that he also will become a full on member of the Ross Cider Team.

Herefordshire (a county) is one of the most sparsely populated regions in England. It is about 3 hours to the west of London. It also has the largest concentration of cider apples. A good many orchards were planted to supply cider giant Bulmers at one time, something that Mike feels benefited the whole region.

The Johnson’s are no longer selling their apples to Bulmers which is now owned by Heineken. Instead, they are full on making cider for their own brand. I first had a bottle of their cider in 2015 and fell madly in love with the quality of that single bottle. It has since been my mission to drink more Ross Cider :) and meet the team, which brings us to this recording which took place in August of 2019.

Thanks to the help and encouragement of Duckchicken Cider in London and Ross Cider, I was able to spontaneously make plans to attend the 2019 Ross Cider Fest held on August 30th to September 1st. I camped in the orchard for 3 nights at this cider and music fest.

The Ross Cider Fest was originally a one day event, starting over 20 years ago. At the time Albert was a young boy. Now 24 years of age, he is full on in the management of this widely popular fest.

Cider Chat Meeting the Makers at Ross on Wye Cider and Perry Company

A couple years back, Mike bought the Yew Tree Pub which is located on the main road, next to Broome Farm. This venue is now selling more cider that beer! Which is unbelievably still a unique fact in the United Kingdom for most pubs.

In this chat we discuss:

  • The Ross Cider Fest - Mike likens the good feelings at the festival due to the serving of natural drinks, without all the chemicals.
  • The Bulmers Impact
    • The first orchards at Broome Farm were planted for Bulmers in 1978
    • Between now and 2001 there are 45 acres of bush orchards
    • 10 acres of standard trees and perry pears.

Says Mike, “The great thing about Bulmers - they are responsible for so many trees [in the region] and research.”

Cider Styles being made by Ross Cider

  • Bottle condition
  • Still
  • Carbonated
  • Kegged

I particularly liked how Mike described the cider styles at Ross. Typically, makers separate their styles as sweet, semi sweet and dry. At Ross Cider they don't like sweet or sugary cider. They make their cider and perry dry. At any given time they might have 87 different kinds of cider to try. Some are blends, but most are single or two varieties of apples.

While I was there Albert said they had 18 single variety ciders. He says, “It might be less complex [a single variety cider] but, it takes you on a journey to discover what a cider apple can do.

Mike adds, “Grab a bunch of single varieties and open them all at once, with friends, and then start blending.”

Says Albert, “We’d be bored if we had to drink the same cider all year.”

This is the unique quality of these makers that makes this cidery so special. Each single variety cider allows you to truly discover the essence of that apple. It does take you on a journey and it is one that many cider drinkers have yet to discover.

If you can, do attend the Ross Cider Fest held every year at the end of the summer. And by the way, these makers won were awarded the BBC Food and Farming for 2019!

Contact Info for Ross on Wye Cider and Perry Company


For general and cider enquiries:

For Yew Tree related enquiries:

For Yew Tree adult only caravan & motorhome enquiries:

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A Museum for Cider, Cider Mythology of May Hill and Cider Loving Fans are all featured in this episode.

This is the third episode of Cider Chat featuring my trip to the United Kingdom. Go to episode 192: London Got Cider and 193: Barrel Smoker, Cheese & Cider for a wide angle view on a one week whirl wind tour to England.

Like all episodes I like to begin with “News Out and About in Ciderville” reminding you to sign up now for the 2nd Annual New England Cider Tour rolling out of Greenfield Massachusetts on October 31, 2019. This cider tour helps kick off the 25th Annual Franklin County CiderDays on November 1-3, 2019.

Then two emails from Patrons of Cider Chat. Travis from Wisconsin and Jamie from Washington.

Featured in 193

Elizabeth Pimblett is the Cider Director at the Cider Museum in Herefordshire The museum was started in 1972 by Burchon Bulmer and Henry Weston of Weston, and Professor Hudson from the Long Ashton Research Station. The goal to capture the story of ciders at the time.

Elizabeth Pimblett of the Herefordshire Cider Museum

The museum opened in 1982. Elizabeth is from Herefordshire so taking on this job was a perfect fit for her. But what really inspired her was the art history already at the museum.

What is a cider flute?

A glass used to drink cider. Think a fluted glass classically used to drink champagne. The early flutes were very large.

Next up is a chat with Dick Witcombe of Manchester, England. He and wife Cath Potter are cider enthusiasts who twitter accounts I have been following for a while, for both inspiration and good cheer! It was a pleasure to finally meet them both. If only Alfie the dog didn’t howl so much during the chat, we could have heard more from Cath who just became a Pommelier! :)

"] Dick and Cath and Alfie the dog

Listen next to Gabe Cook, who authored a book in 2018 titled The Ciderologist as he tells the story and mythology behind May Hill.

The final feature is with two cider enthusiasts from Wales, Ed and Beck. They discovered Broome Farm where Ross Cider is located 10 years ago. Listen as they share a fun story of the Brockhampton Perry blend.

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Kate and Toby Lovell are raising Shropshire Sheep and Friesian Sheep at Handcocks Meadow Farm The Shropshire Sheep don’t debark trees which make them excellent for use in orchards. They also have a flock of Friesian Sheep for cheese making.

This chat was recorded at the Ross Cider Fest, based in Ross on Wye, in Herefordshire in the United Kingdom. The fest took place August 30- September 1, 2019 and has been an annual fest for the past 20 years.

I was quite taken by all the volunteers who helped set up the festival and the vendors such as Handcocks Meadow Farms.

The first conversation in this episode was at the covered sheep trailer that was set up for serving Hancocks Meadow Farm smoked lamb. Meet Harriet, David, and Sullivan who were serving up smoked lamb.

Then we talk with Toby Lovell, who was manning the oak barrel smoker.

Toby Lovell with barrel

While the barrel is closed, it is perfect for holding glasses and bottles of cider...of course Ross Cider ;)

The set up is basic and yet the outcome is exotic - leaving me hungry for the next time I come across the Lovell’s and their perfectly smoked lamb.

Pauline, Kate’s mum, makes cheese from the milk of the herd of Friesains on the farm.

Pauline and Kate using a Dutch cheese knife

Cheese scale

The final mini chat is with Albert Johnson of Ross Cider with a little help from his border collie, Norman.

And, I read a mini letter from John the cider maker at Ross Cider, who also happens to have a very long name, but for now we will call him John Edwards.

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2nd Annual New England Cider Tour Oct 31, 2019

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Here is the first dispatch from the United Kingdom, specifically London where my journey began.

“The Talking Pommes” (The Medlars, Mr. Quince, Perry Pear) and I arrived at Heathrow and went our separate ways. The Pommes headed off to Buckingham Castle to meet the Queen and I headed east to London to meet with Felix Nash. Felix is the owner of Fine Cider based in London. This business is called "cider merchant" in the UK or what would be called a distributor in the US. He has just finished a book called “Fine Cider” and it will be released in October of this year.

Later that same day I met up with Colleen O’Sullivan and James Mann of Duckchicken Cider. They were the catalyst for this trip to the UK and offered to host me at their home in South London. Stay tuned for a full episode with this dynamic couple who are making cider commercially in their home!

James Mann & Colleen O'Sullivan - Duckchicken Cider

One of the highlights with Colleen and James was enjoying a “Train Beer” is a popular term used in the UK when one imbibes on the train. For me I was more interested in a “Train Cider” which we did have while making our way to the Royal Oak Pub in London.

My final day in London I met up with Roberto Basilico the Head Cidermaker at The Hawkes Cidery and Taproom. He presents two styles of cider being made at this both modern and traditional cidery.

Roberto Basilico - Hawkes Cidery and Taproom

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2nd Annual New England Cider Tour October 31, 2019

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In 1968, Carol B. Hillman bought a colonial era estate that overlooked the Quabbin Reservoir, Boston's water source, in New Salem, Massachusetts.

Originally attracted to the home onsite which is a classic colonial style home with a fire place in every room and a large hearth for cooking, she and her husband set to task to renovating the home to its full glory. At the same time, she also began bringing the 2 orchards back.

Carol B. Hillman serving cider

The two orchards named "Lawerence and Clara" after Carol's first grandchildren are all standard trees. Many of the trees are over 150 years old. Many of the same people that Carol originally worked with are still with her today, like Steve Wiseman who helps with the orchard and New Hampshire pruner Brad Maloney.

Brad considers the orchard his museum piece. Over the past 30 years he has added his own special touch by using the water sprouts and bending them into what he calls Apple Pretzels, as seen in photo below.

Apple Pretzels

During Franklin County CiderDays this orchard is open on both Sunday and Saturday to family and friends with workshops on all things apple and cider. This is always an outdoor fire, food and crafts.

Carol has always called her fresh pressed apple juice "Cider" or "Sweet Cider" She destains the term apple juice, which to Carol means canned juice that is over pasteurizes and stripped of all the rich flavors that can only be found in orchard pressed juice.

In 2019, the orchard became licensed to ferment cider into "hard cider". William Grote, an award winning cidermaker from Boston, travels out to New Salem each week to make cider.

William Grote outside the CiderMill at New Salem Preserves and Heritage Cider

In short order, an outdoor space was made for visitors to sit in called the Cider Garden. Today, you can order a glass and take a seat or walk about with glass in hand into the orchard.

Current Ciders on Tap or take in a crowler (32 ounce) to go.

  • Redfield, Reine de Pomme, and Macintosh (6.0%)
  • Macintosh, Northern Spy, Empire Blend (6.0%)

More Apple Products at New Salem Preserves

  • Gift box of 18 apples and a jar of strawberry jam - dried in the solar cooker attached to the bar,
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Cider Donuts
  • Apple Butter
  • Sweet Cider - unfermented apple juice
  • Hard Cider

Contact for New Salem Preserves and Heritage Cider




67 S Main St New Salem, Massachusetts 01355 Telephone: (978) 544-3437

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003 Robert Colnes : Building a Ciderhouse

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In 1996 Bellwether Hard Cider and Wine Cellars opened for business in a repurposed chicken hatchery in upper New York state in the Finger Lakes regions surrounding Lake Cayuga. Now in its 23rd year of business, this family operation makes both cider, wine and is now planning to get into distilling.

Bill Barton of Bellwether Cider

This chat began outdoors under the covered porch outside the Tasting Room as a soft rain fell.

Bill began as a home fermenter making 5 gallon batches of wine and cider and then scaled up to a 1500 gallons when he first started the cidery.

Bellwether brings in juice from surrounding orchards and is even making cider for City Orchard based in Houston, Texas, slated to open in November 2019.

“Yeast is not a particularly important component”

Bill looks for the following in a balanced cider

  • Acid
  • Tannin
  • Sugar

He does not pitch any cultured yeast, but instead uses what is called an “Ambient” yeast - which I and other might call “wild yeast” in that it is what is found in both on the skin of the fruit and in the building.

Serial #0000 from this one of a kind bottling line for 750ML

750ML Millennium line #0001

Twist Rinser: 12 ounce bottling line

Bellwether Ciders

  • ambient yeast
  • back sweetened with sweet reserve “juice” only “if necessary” at bottling
  • Juice from Finger Lakes orchards
  • 6% alcohol by volume is what most ciders ring in at Bellwether
  • ferments dry
  • offers both carbonated and still

Flagship ciders

  • Original
  • Liberty Spy - one of the top best sellers. A blend of Northern Spy and Liberty
  • Lord Scudamore - is a Sparkling Cider that has been bottled conditioned for 5 years!

Bit of a reverse scene for packaging product at Bellwether

  • Bill started out with 12 ounce beer bottle - and now only does 750ML.

What’s in the future for Bellwether?

Bill recently purchased a copper Alembic still from Normandy, France. He plans to move into distilling product once he gets to licensing.

Normandy Still to be used at Bellwether Cider, once licensing is complete

Contact for Bellwether Hard Cider and Wine Cellars


Address: 9070 NY-89, Trumansburg, NY 14886

Telephone: 607-387-9464

Thank you to the following producers for helping to sponsor Cider Chat’s tour of the Finger Lakes CiderWeek!

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