• The orchard at Mountain Valley Farm, Waitsfield, Vermont

    In collaboration with farm owners, Sue and Gib Geiger, we began rejuvenating this 24-year old traditional orchard in 2013. Stewardship practices are guided by permaculture and organic principles. Gibs beehives reside in the orchard, plant biodiversity is encouraged and local wildlife wonder through freely. Often the deer and coyotes help pick up drops and the neighborhood bear challenges my pruning decisions.

     

    There are over 40 cultivars of apples and 5 types of pears, some of the more noteworthy names are listed above. There are also numerous wild seedlings growing within the rows. The original planting map called the wild apples "Elmore Cider". Initially I thought we had discovered a unique and rare cider apple. Turns out, they are simply random seedlings from Elmore Roots Nursery. Seedling wild apples have long been known to be a valuable addition to hard cider blends, albeit, a gamble until you have tested each variety. Some of these wild Elmore seedlings have proven themselves as cider apples, and the others have potential to be better suited for aged vinegar.

    Process

    My focus is on traditional dry ciders from fruit grown in the Mad River Valley and surrounding mountain communities. All fruit is grown between 1000 and 2000 feet in elevation.

     

    Fermentations occur mostly on wild yeast, naturally occurring on the fruit and in the surrounding environment. Occasionally cultured yeasts get involved, most notably AWRI 350, a yeast strain used in some traditional English cider making practices for many decades. The wild yeast fermentations typically last for 6-9 months and the cultured yeast fermentations last 1-4 months. Additional time is needed for clearing, blending and bottle aging. I use no filtration, no additives, and little or no sulfite. The entire process takes about a year, often longer for aging in bottle.

     

    -Teddy Weber

    Orchard Steward & Cidermaker