IT ALL STARTED IN THE FOOTHILLS of Urnieta and Hernani in the Basque Country. Peter Yi, a wine buyer, took a break from tasting wines to visit a sagardotegi. It was a gastronomic experience like no other: simple, farm-fresh menus paired with natural cider caught straight from the barrel. It wasn’t just a dining experience; it was a party. It was a thunderbolt moment and not long after his trip, driving north on the FDR on an unusually clear spring night, he told his sister Susan, “We need to make a cider house in Brooklyn.” He was dead serious, and within weeks Peter walked away from a business he built for 25 years, and Susan quit teaching to study apples and hard cider.
That was the spring of 2014. They didn’t know a bushel from a bin of apples. What they did know was that they wanted to make a wildly natural cider.
In very little time, the Yi siblings have come so far, thanks to a super dedicated team: Lindsey, who joined the founding team in its second year, Hannah and Eleazar who manage the farm, and, of course, Peter and Susan. They revitalized a Hudson Valley orchard, where they have built a cidery, tasting room, farm store, and pavilion that serves wood-fired pizza and burgers. Their cider facilities at Twin Star Orchards are open from April through the first week of November for tastings and food, and visitors may pick their own “ugly apples” in the fall. They’re still working hard on their dream to open a cider house in Brooklyn, which they hope to open this summer.
At Brooklyn Cider House, one simple ingredient is used to make ciders – apples – so the structure, aromas, mouthfeel, and any residual sugar are definitively tied to the quality of their apples. All of their ciders are made from freshly harvested, handpicked apples; fermented in stainless steel tanks with wild or wine yeast; and aged between two to 18 months. They make their ciders with minimal intervention and strive for balance, depth of structure, and allusions to terroir.
At Twin Star, they’re determined to grow the best raw materials for their cider using sustainable methods. They believe that “ugly apples taste better” than most commercial apples which are usually perfect-looking and uniform in size. They currently have more than 50 acres of ugly apples in full production that supply much of their cider making, and have planted 8,000 baby trees of rare hard cider varieties (not for eating) and high-acid, disease-resistant heirloom varieties. They expect to source all of their apples for cider production from the farm within 2-3 years and to be a supplier of rare cider and heirloom apples for other New York cider makers in 4-5 years, once the new trees are in full production.
BROOKLYN CIDER HOUSE
155 N. Ohioville Rd.
New Paltz, NY 12561
April–Early Nov: Wed–Thurs, 11am–6pm
Fri–Sun: Sat, 11am–7pm
New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas
Peter Yi (Twin Star Orchards)
Susan Yi (Brooklyn Cider House)