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199: Bellwether Cider since 1996 | NY

Cider Chat

10/30/19 • 61 min

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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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