Jonathan Carr and Nicole Blum moved to Hadley, Massachusetts, more than 13 years ago to plant a cider apple orchard and make cider. They were fully committed to this goal — Jonathan was in the process of finishing up a Master's Degree in Plant and Soil Science and his speciality was hard cider apples (note to self: Science is awesome).
They have 2000 trees in their orchard: a mix of Yarlington Mill, Golden Russet, Kingston Black, Goldrush and Dabinett to make sure their cider has plenty of complexity and richness. They press the apples on a refurbished century-old cider press as the weather starts to get cold, and they often don't finish until December. The juice freezes naturally until they're ready to start fermentation. Almost all of their cider is naturally fermented with wild yeasts – a slow process, but one that results in the very best cider.
Now a scientist, farmer and cider-maker, Jonathan has clearly learned as much on the job as he did from his degree. One thing he realized is that as long as they were making cider, they ought to make apple cider vinegar, too. The result is the best we have ever tasted.
He's also put his scientific know-how to work for a long-term project focused on breeding new forms of cider apples that are more resistant to pests and disease, and require less spraying. We'd happily raise a glass of cider (or cider vinegar – it's that good!) to that. Cheers!