It's no secret that New York is a haven for orchards. Apples are to New York what citrus is to Florida, and those who are lucky enough to live in the Tri-State Area know all too well what it means when summer starts coming to a close.
Although the summer season isn't technically over until late September, the apple growing season begins months prior to that. By the end of August, many orchards are preparing to open their doors to eager apple-pickers and cider lovers. By Labor Day (AKA the first week in September), orchards are already open for u-pick and other early fall festivities. Summer always seems like it comes and goes too quickly but when there are fresh apples to look forward to, waving goodbye to sweltering days becomes just a little bit easier.
The Hudson Valley is home to some of the state's most beloved orchards, and when it comes to freshly made cider, these are pretty unbeatable.
Why The Hudson Valley For Cider?
The Hudson Valley has always been known for its prime orcharding conditions, but it only recently entered the cider scene during the early 90s. While that might not seem so recent now, it's fairly recent compared to the fact that cider has been around for centuries. Dating back to the 18th century, cider was a top drink in Colonial America, and it's a tradition that stands today. In 1994, Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery began what would become a lifelong passion for apple-based beverages with Doc's Craft Cider. This distillery was one of many that would follow suit in the years to come; with New England, the northeast, as a whole, has become a year-round hub for cider. However, it's only during the apple-picking season that fans of the fruity drink can get their hands on freshly squeezed cider (non-alcoholic) depending on which apples are in season that year.
When it comes to the latter-mentioned apple picking, this has always been a Hudson Valley tradition. It has made its way throughout the entire Tri-State area, and is a pretty hard and fast tradition in New England, as well. Specific to the Hudson Valley, though, are the famed Northern Spy apple variety as well as Fuji, Pink Lady, and Granny Smith apples. The concept of creating cider came from compressing the apples until they became a liquid; by allowing it to ferment, it was discovered that 'hard' cider could be created - which was similar to that of brandy, but cheaper.
Today, the craft cider industry is booming after riding on the coattails of the craft beer boom. Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic ciders are found throughout the Hudson Valley, both crafted from the orchards that grow the apples used to make them.
Hudson Valley Cider Stops
It should be known that there are many cider stops throughout the Hudson Valley's most popular towns and cities. Hudson Valley Mag has the complete guide for each cidery but here's a breakdown of each one, by county:
- Nine Pin Cider Works
- Indian Ladder Farms
- Sundog Cider
- Little Apply Cidery
- Treasury Cider
- Left Bank Ciders
- Angry Orchard Cider
- Doc's Hard Cider
- Naked Flock
- Orchard Hill Cider Mill
- Rockland Cider Works
- Twin Star Orchards
- Bad Seed Hard Cider
- Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider
- Abandoned Cider
- Hardscrabble Cider
- Thompson's Cider Mill
When To Do A Hudson Valley Cider Tour
There's no need to sign up for a guided cider tour (with the exception of not having a designated driver), when the cideries and distilleries are so easily mapped out in advance. It's easy enough to visit the best cideries in each county on separate trips, and we advise finding an Airbnb or hotel in the area so that an Uber can be a reliable form of transportation.
Multiple cider stops can be made in one weekend and, if cider fans are really keen on the idea, it is possible to visit most of them in one season. The best time to start visiting these cideries in order to take in the full early-fall experience is the first week of August or the first week of September. After Labor Day, the orchards fill with people; however, before Labor Day, the apples aren't necessarily ready, which means certain cider flavors (or regular, non-alcoholic cider) won't be quite ready. The other option is to go in late September, early October in order to catch all of that beautiful fall foliage that should just start turning at the beginning of the season.