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Excellent fruit is the most essential element of great cider. Upstate New York has had apple orchards for hundreds of years and the glacial soils and temperate climate is well-suited to growing apples with great flavor. The cool nights, especially in the autumn, allow the apples to ripen slowly and to keep the great flavors that they developed throughout the growing season. Notable American cider apple varieties originating in Upstate NY include Golden Russet and Northern Spy. Phonograph works with orchards located in Upstate New York, between the Fingerlakes and Lake Ontario. These include orchards of Rhode Island Greening that haven’t been harvested in nearly 20 years, as well as Northern Spy and Ida Red. Some of these orchards have become so mature that the understory is a forest of grasses and wildflowers. Farmstand orchards all over New York have been pressing this fruit for cider for generations and have kept these heirloom varieties alive and well. The apples used have character and elegance that is more than tangible and intensified in the cider. All of the Phonograph cider is pressed on a rack and cloth press that has been in use for nearly 100 years. It is powered by a tractor and is being run by the fourth generation of the Gansz family to press at this same location. Phonograph cider comes from a traditional winemaking approach with some contemporary cidermaking techniques woven in. The fruit is pressed fresh in the fall at peak ripeness and fermented in the Fingerlakes town of Romulus during the cool autumn and winter. The dry ciders are then immediately fermented and the Medium ciders undergo an ice-cider technique by freezing some of the unfermented juice before primary fermentation to produce a finished cider that is balanced both in acidity and residual apple sugar. No sugar is added. The first fermentation is stopped with cold temperatures and filtering and a second fermentation then produces sparkling ciders with exceptional clarity and expression.
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