PROUDLY LOCAL and intently sustainable, Seminary Hill Orchard & Cidery in Callicoon, NY, is all about Catskills heritage. Founded by Chicagoans Doug Doetsch (descended from a Callicoon family) and Susan Manning, Seminary Hill features the world’s first Passive House-certified cidery: an expansive 4,000-square-foot space clad with larch wood reclaimed from the underwater pilings of the original Tappan Zee Bridge. A cathedral-style ceiling frames floor-to-ceiling windows, and a wrap-around patio and balcony offer a perfect vantage point for the spectacular views of the orchard below and Delaware River Valley in the distance.
Designed by James Hartford of River Architects, the cidery is a modern take on a classic bank barn built into the side of a hill. Certified by the Passive House Institute U.S., the building’s insulated thermal envelope prevents heat loss or gain, while its triple pane windows help warm the room during winter while also providing peaceful orchard views. The eco-consciousness doesn’t stop at the cidery’s design but continues throughout stages of cider production.
Seminary Hill grows more than 60 American heirloom, English, and French varieties of cider apples and perry pears in rocky clay on a south-facing slope overlooking the Delaware River. They holistically manage their orchards in cooperation with nature. The fruit they grow (and the fruit they buy from area grower partners) has the complex aromatics, sharp acids, and tactile tannins needed to ferment and blend ciders with depth and nuance.
Seminary Hill’s orchard-driven cider reveals the distinct qualities of each year’s fruit. They never add other flavors or colors, and the ciders tend toward the dry end of the spectrum. Hence, all the flavors and textures shine through without the obscuring veil of excess sugar.
“For our grandparents and great-grandparents, making cider was simply part of living off the land. They took in summer boarders to make ends meet, and some became lifelong friends,” says owner Doug Doetsch. “Their example inspires us as we craft distinctive ciders, welcome guests to our tasting room and boarding house, and share our appreciation for the bounty and beauty of the land.”
Photo: Daniel Schwartz
43 Wagner La
Callicoon, NY 12723
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Doug Doetsch, Susan Manning