A cider session with Windfall Orchard of Cornwall, Vermont
Forbes Magazine called Windfall Orchard cider the “spectacular hard cider you’ve never heard of” because you just can't get your hands on this cider outside of Vermont. In January we shipped two hard cider varieties from Windfall Orchard: Windfall Orchard Ice Cider shipped to all CIDRBOX subscribers, and the native yeast fermented Windfall Orchard Farmhouse Hard Cider shipped to all 6-bottle and 12-bottle CIDRBOX subscribers. And then we sat down with Windfall Orchard orchadist and cidermaker Brad Koehler over sublime leftovers at his home in Cornwall, Vermont to try his ciders and hear more about the qualities that he works hard to share in each glass.
We started our conversation with the Windfall Orchard Perry teamed up with local Jasper Hill Farm Winnimere cheese. Made only during the winter months when Jasper Hill's Ayrshire cows provide rich, hay-fed raw milk, the outer rind of this soft cheese is wrapped in bark, so we peeled the lid back to get at the creamy center, and spread it on a fresh, crunchy bread. It paired perfectly with the Windfall Perry, which drinks like a champagne, with delicate effervescence and a beautiful round mouthfeel.
Most of us know the word windfall to mean a piece of unexpected good fortune, but the word windfall originated in the orchard – it means an apple blown down from a tree by the wind – and Windfall Orchard received its name from the country doctor, Ted Collier, who pulled it from a poem by his neighbor, the poet Robert Frost, who taught just down the road at the Bread Loaf School of English. Collier acquired the orchard when it was just a strip of Rhode Island Greenings planted in 1918. In the 1950s, Collier and his friend and orchardist Art Blaise grew the acreage to over 50 varieties of heirloom apples including Northern Spy, McIntosh, Cortland, Roxbury Russet, Esopus Spitzenburg, Winter Banana and the Westfield Seek-No-Further.
Since acquiring the orchard in 2002, orchardist Brad Koehler has expanded the apple varieties to over eighty, through the careful grafting old McIntosh or Red Delicious trees with heirloom, cider and dessert apple varieties. Koehler’s Farmhouse Hard Cider contains over twenty of these apple varieties; Windfall Orchard Ice Cider contains over thirty. Windfall Ice Cider also includes old chance seedling varieties that only exist at Windfall Orchard, and are picked by hand when perfectly ripe to ensure that the fruits’ peak aromatics and flavor carry through to the finished ice cider. All of the apples in Windfall Orchard ciders are sourced from their Cornwall orchard alone, providing you with a true taste of regional terroir.
In January we included an encore round of Eden Specialty Ciders in the CIDRBOX: The three bottle assortment contained the Eden Semi-Dry, which subscribers have not yet experienced, and Guinevere’s Pearls, which six and twelve bottle subscribers received in the December box.
Pair Eden Cider Cellar Series #5: Juliette with anything you might serve with a white wine—like a simply prepared salmon
We were excited to bring the hard to find Windfall Orchard to our subscribers in January, along with more stunning Eden ciders, but our return to Vermont was also fueled by necessity: We ran into a licensing delay with the small, regional Finger Lakes cidermaker we had hoped to share with you, which meant that we could not ship their cider as soon as expected.
We regret the delay, and appreciate your patience. We also remain committed to our model: CIDRBOX exists not only to help you discover the best American heritage cidermakers, but also to assist those same cidermakers in their efforts to build a direct channel for their business. We don't warehouse and ship the cider to you as a retailer—we travel to the cidery itself, where we help the cidermaker ship direct to cider lovers under the cidermaker's direct wine shipper licenses. The benefit is that once we step away the cidermaker is well positioned to continue to build their direct to consumer business. And going direct helps our cidermakers preserve their margins on a cost-intensive product and find a larger market outside of the region that already knows and loves them.
Your patience goes a long way to making a difference in the lives and business of small producers—thank you for your support.
We will be announcing our next small maker boxes from the Finger Lakes and Virginia soon—stay tuned.