4th of July Special - Alex Robb of Rootstock Ciderworks
As American as apple pie? Perhaps, we should be saying, as American as apple cider. We talk cider and apple growing with Alex Robb in this special release on America's birthday.
We celebrate the 4th of July with this special release of the Viti+Culture podcast. Today, it’s all about apples, cider, and America’s original beverage.
I’ve chosen today to release this excerpt of an interview I did with Alex Robb, cidermaker at the increasingly renown Rootstock Cider in Williamson, New York, because cider apples played such an integral role as an agricultural product, as well as a beverage for social cohesion and nourishment, during the American Revolution.
In the US, we use the term cider broadly. Some of my earliest memories were of heading over to Kelly’s Apple Farm in Hilton, NY to enjoy a glass of fresh pressed apple juice. But, cider for the colonists, was indeed more of the British and European consensus a fermented version of the apple crops we so closely identify with the Northeast, the Northwest, and other cool regions around the US.
Indeed, as American mythology would have it, but for the iron screw from an apple press, used for making cider, one of the beams of the Mayflower, which had broken in a storm, would have been forced to turn back to England. That screw helped save that beam, and cemented the history of Plymouth Plantation, the role of the colonialists in New England, and indeed, the role of apples in North America. It has been speculated that saplings planted in barrels and seeds of apples and pears were even transported to the New World in the early days of European colonists.
Further, we have legends like Johnny Appleseed, or John Chapman, who spread the seeds of apples throughout the Northeastern corridor as settlers headed west, providing nutrition, cider, and apple stock for further plantings.
As far as the framers of our republic goes, cider was a choice beverage of everyone from John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Ben Franklin. In fact, among the many amazing quotes by our own revolutionary gourmande, Ben Franklin, is this gem, “Give me yesterday’s bread, this day’s flesh, and last year’s cider.” He was clearly a man who knew good food, and good drink.
Alex Robb has a wealth of experience in both winemaking and cider making, and I would argue, his ciders are even better because of his knowledge of viticulture and winemaking. We enjoyed a wonderful long conversation, and I’m looking forward to sharing more of Alex’s great mind with you. Today, however, we are focused on part of our conversation regarding America’s original beverage: cider. Alex crafts many different styles of apple and pear ciders at Rootstock Cider, in beautiful Williamson New York, just outside of Rochester. It’s a world of its own, populated less by people and grapevines, and more by expansive family owned orchards. His insight into cider, and indeed the world, are a valuable contribution to the agriculture and craft beverage industry in New York.
On this fourth of July and other great American holidays, grab a glass of Rootstock cider, have a listen, and let’s celebrate our great country. In the midst of so many challenges, we are blessed to call the USA ours, and this country works because we believe in it. And look for more of Alex in season 2, as we go deep into his background and his own personal philosophy.
We often say, as American as apple pie. Perhaps, instead, we should be saying, as American as apple cider.
Don’t forget to join us Thrusday for our weekly vineyard update, and be sure to check out our interview with Derek and Stacey Edinger, from Brewery Ardennes, debuting July 15. And now, here’s the show.
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