By Amy Quan
Some cider makers have tasting rooms on their farms; some cider makers open retail tasting taprooms. For some, however, farmers markets are their tasting rooms.
While Covid restrictions in New York state currently allow for tasting in the first two venues, those cider makers who count on reaching customers through the markets still can’t pour. From a public health perspective this makes sense, but it doesn’t make it easy for cideries who depend on market sales.
On a drizzly April Saturday, I headed out to the Ithaca Farmers Market to talk to this group of cider makers. In the past, this market would see up to half a dozen cider makers selling from the booths by the lake. On this day, only one—Steve Daughhetee of New York Cider Company—had set up shop.
“I’ve been the only one here since the market started back up [three weeks ago],” Steve noted. Though he can’t serve the drink, he can serve up great stories about his ciders. In the brief time I spent at his booth, I learned about the 150-year-old apple trees—planted by a farmer named Moses—whose apples create the eponymous “Moses Snook” cider. And I watched him turn passersby into potential cider lovers.
As we move closer to summer, I expect that our large regional markets will have more cider for sale; and I hope the small neighborhood ones will also. Even if we can’t taste at markets, we can still support the folks who do use these spaces as their tasting rooms.
So even if you can’t sip, trust the cider makers to translate your tastes into their ciders. They’ll send you home with some great cider… and probably a good story or two.
Amy Quan lives, writes, and drinks cider in Covert, NY. When not outside with her husband planting food and trying to restore the old orchard on their farmland, she teaches writing at Ithaca College.