WHEN THEIR FAMILY ACQUIRED a 60-acre apple orchard seven years ago, the Covino brothers—Alex, Kevin, and Ben—immediately began tinkering with the idea of putting their apple crop to good use. And with the recent upswing in the popularity of hard cider, it seemed only logical to try their hand at the craft.
Harvest Moon Farm and Orchard, formerly Outhouse Orchard, was purchased by local nursery owner Rob Covino in 2010. The orchard was home to 60 acres of culinary apple trees and a variety of other stone fruit and vegetables. Culinary apples aren’t as sought after as traditional cider fruit, but the Covino brothers were driven by Teddy Roosevelt’s quote: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”.
The brothers, each with a degree in horticulture and years of experience working on their family’s nursery, had the background knowledge needed to keep the orchard flourishing to ensure a healthy crop. Utilizing the apple varieties at their disposal, their goal was to ultimately craft a light, crisp hard cider that embodied drinkability.
After years of experimentation, they created a cider which truly reflected the crop: an off-dry cider with strong apple flavor and aroma. No extra sugar is added; fresh- pressed sweet cider is introduced post-fermentation to enhance the taste and to ensure the final product isn’t overly dry. You won’t find preservatives or additives either. The brothers choose to batch pasteurize each and every bottle to ensure a clean and natural product. “It was our goal to make a truly craft beverage. We press the apples that go into the cider. We fill, pasteurize, and label every bottle.”
Success with their Dry and Standard recipes led the brothers to get creative with other varieties, such as Cranberry—a semi-dry tart cider that incorporates fresh cranberries—and Fruit of the Farm, a sweeter variety that incorporates peaches, nectarines, and blueberries into the blend. Their Citra cider, one of the most popular to date, involves fermenting their cider over citra hops. It’s a hit with cider and beer lovers alike. Newer varieties, such as Ginger Lemon, Beet, and Jalapeno Cucumber will be available this spring. The recent planting of over 1,000 cider- variety apple trees will lead to even more experimentation down the road.
A nod to cider’s history in this country, Hardscrabble Cider features an Americana theme – and the tasting room attempts to embody the same feel. The walls are lined with reclaimed barnwood, emblems of American history hang on display, and quality hand-crafted beverages are readily available. In addition to their cider (sold by the bottle, pint, and flight), the tasting room features New York craft beer (on tap and by the bottle), liquor, cordials, and wine. With a newly renovated and expanded outdoor patio and a new wood-fired pizza oven, expect bigger and better events throughout the spring, summer, and fall, with a continuation of their weekend live music pizza parties.
130 Hardscrabble Rd.
North Salem, NY 10560
New Year’s Day, Easter, Christmas
Tasting Flight: $12.00 (not offered during events or Pizza Nights)
Alex Covino, Kevin Covino, and Ben Covino