By Brooklynn Johnson
Photos courtesy of Rootstock Ciderworks
When you think of New York, what are the first images that pop up behind your eyes? Yellow taxis. A glamorous and festively explosive New Year’s Eve celebration. Towering skyscrapers. Ol’ Lady Liberty herself, dressed in the finest shades of grey. Crowded sidewalks and even more crowded streets.
Not often do people imagine 500 acres of lakeside orchards with branches dripping with fruit, sprawling as far as the eye can see. Places like this, like Rootstock Ciderworks in Williamson, New York, are shattering stereotypical views of New York, and are replacing them with a tall glass of scrumptious cider.
“After Washington, we are number two as far as apple producing states,” says David Robertson, Rootstock’s vice president of marketing and sales. “New York State has this really rich history in regards to fruit, primarily apples, so there’s a very active apple community here.” Wayne County in New York is actually the United States leading producer of apples.
The roots at Rootstock go down deep. Generations deep. David DeFisher, Rootstock’s founder and owner, is a fourth generation farmer, with DeFisher Farms providing the platform from which the cidery sources its apples from.
“It’s truly that whole idea of tree to taste, everything happens right there on the farm,” says Robertson. You will only ever find two ingredients in their cider—apples and yeast.
Rootstock Ciderworks was launched in 2012, in response to some changes in what he calls, “the Prohibition hangover.” Legislative action in New York opened up possibilities for craft cideries, distilleries, breweries and wineries throughout this East Coast state. Just a few short years later, Rootstock has become one of the first cideries in New York to can their product, further proving that cider is one of the fastest growing alcoholic beverages in history.
“Alex Robb, our cidermaker is just amazing,” says Robertson. Robb has a background in European winemaking, and carefully selects heirloom American apples to pull off a dynamic depth of flavor in the ciders.
“I am always going to have a fondness for Rootstock original,” says Robertson. “That was the first cider, and was something that David DeFischer and his son created, it was really the first cider to come out of the cidery.”
The Original is a semi-sweet cider made with dessert apples off of the DeFisher Farm. Their other varieties include Rootstock Heritage, Legend, and a Bartlett pear Perry. Rootstock Ciderworks racked in medals from the 2015 Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition.
“We take great pride in the fruit that we grow, and in the fact that we are a true craft beverage maker. We own the land, we grow it, we press, ferment and bottle all of our ciders here on site,” says founder DeFisher. Stop by their gorgeous and rustic tasting room for a taste of New York’s new big apple.