Whether it is from the fruit we grow at Scrumpy Ewe Farm or from various orchards we work with in the Fingerlakes, all Scrumpy Ewe Cider begins with individually hand-selecting each apple based on its unique characteristics to be used as a stand alone single varietal or part of greater, and very strategic, blends.
This hand-painted, cut-out stop motion animation is made
by a friend and fellow cider-maker, Sonja Eklund
Ryan McGiver, sole-proprietor, farmer, orchardist, shepherd, pommelier, started planting European and heirloom American cider varieties in three test orchards in Schoharie Co over a decade ago. He now maintains over 800 trees, 17 cider-centric apple varieties on both modern, high density dwarf and traditional standard rootstock plantings. His small flock of Jacob sheep and Sebastopol geese provide natural fertilizer to both orchard systems and all are irrigated with pristine, mountain spring water, in an effort to maintain regenerative, organic-like farm practices.
The soil in which this most recent orchard has been planted is Lordstown Channery Silt Loam and we acknowledge this as land of the Kanienʼkehá꞉ka (Mohawk) people. Highly acidic and sandstone rich, the soil produces low yield, yet superior fruit quality.
What’s Scrumpy? The term "Scrumpy" originated in the British Isles and refers to an unfiltered cider.
We pride ourselves on making minimal intervention cider from juice that is bright, clean, complex, tannic and acidic, pitched with a neutral yeast in stainless steel tanks and barrels, fermented at specific temperatures, We do so to showcase the true essence of the unique varietals we grow and work with. We produce clean, natural cider with minimal intervention to both the (‘scrumpy’) fruit and process. All our cider is unfiltered, we let nature do most of the work . We make cider annually and batch-to-batch each has its own unique characteristics based on our growth season, the cider varieties we blend and style of fermentation we utilize.
Farm & Orchard
With appreciation for regenerative farming, organic-like practices, and the symbiosis between sheep and orchard, Scrumpy Ewe Cider takes pride in the entire slow process from apple to cider.
Apple Selection, Maintenance & Harvest
Scrumpy Ewe Cider grows and sources European, heirloom and modern cider-apples to craft the region’s most desired Cider. Come fall, apples are harvested and “sweated’ to allow maximum ripening to increase sugar content and quality. Nature has its own timetable for each variety. After the harvest season, we transport apples bins to our pressing room. There, apples are meticulously washed and equipment is sanitized. After a thorough cleaning, we grind apples into pomace and make fresh juice using a commercial bladder press. The discarded applely-bits go back to the Scrumpy Ewes on the farm.
“Great cider doesn’t come from a typical eating-apple”
Apple Varieties We Grow & Source:
Porter’s Perfection | Redfield | Golden Russet | Harrison | Cox Orange Pippin | Dabinett Wickson | Roxbury Russet | Harry Master Jersey | Yarlington Mill | Peau de Chien
Hewe’s Virginia Crab | Kingston Black | Tremlett’s Bitter | Binet Rouge
Scrumpy Ewe Orchard Seedlings:
Major Harrison’s Fedora | Fulton Hill Sharp
“Cleanliness is next to godliness”
Production begins within 24 hours of grinding the pomace, when yeast is added. This primary fermentation period is 1-3 months, depending on the batch size, method of fermentation, and fermentation temperature.
The juice is monitored as it ferments with temperature gauges, hydrometers and digital meters for PH/total acidity/sulfites (if any are added). Batches are racked off of their lees, using oxygen-free wine pumps or nitrogen-driven racking canes to ensure no oxidation occurs at any point in the process.
During the secondary fermentation process, Scrumpy Ewe ages the product in either stainless steel tanks and/or barrels for an additional 6 weeks to 16 months.
While Scrumpy Ewe painstakingly blends varieties prior to fermentation, additional blending is sometimes needed after the secondary ferment process.
The cider is then labeled and hand bottled either still or before primary fermentation ends for in bottle ferments (petillant) or post-fermentation with a small amount of priming sugar to create light bubbles.
“Patience is bitter but its fruit is sweet”