The farm—already an apple orchard, pumpkin patch, maple sugar shack, and cider mill—also hosts events year-round for locals and tourists.
This large conveyer washes the apples thoroughly before they get pressed.
This cider press is 120 years old and is capable of delivering 50,000 pounds of pressure to 20 bushels of apples.
The apples are arranged in layers on plastic sheets and wrapped in burlap, then stacked. These screws deliver the pressure down, often in stages, squeezing the apples almost totally dry.
Those 20 bushels of apples can be pressed into about 60 gallons of cider.
The old fashioned way of measuring pressure. The metal bar rises as the pressure increases, and the black marker dash indicates the high point.
The cider drains off for processing. Sweet cider just gets pasteurized and bottled, hard cider gets fermented and aged.
The press leaves behind a compacted mess of pulp and skin called pomace. Pressing the apples whole allows some of the tannins from the skins, stems, and seeds to filter into the cider.
Critz switches up his apple blends for cider depending on the time of year, but frequent picks include McIntosh, McCowan, Cortland, and Ida Red. He adds five to six types of cider apples for his hard cider, which make up about 10% of the apple mass.
300-gallon tanks ferment the cider for about two weeks. It's then aged for a month before...
...aging for another six in cold storage.
Cold storage is an apple farmer's best friend, or at least one of them. It allows you to age your cider for a long time, but it also can keep your apples fresh and crisp if you seal a room, pump out the oxygen, and drop the temperature. Critz presses cider from cold-storage apples; according to him, it tastes "just like if they were fresh."
Since Critz can't source enough cider apples for his hard cider, he supplements with tannins supplied from wineries.
Critz's most interesting ciders are his most dry, including the extra brut Champagne-like Rippleton Original, which gets a sugar charge from maple syrup.
Harvest Moon cider comes in large format bottles, but it's also kegged for bars and restaurants around upstate New York.