Needless to say, these ciders and almost all the ciders I tasted would go beautifully with the fall harvest dinner otherwise known as Thanksgiving. Most range from roughly 7 to 9 percent alcohol, much less than the typical 12 to 14 percent of wine, for those concerned with overdoing it.
Over in the Hudson Valley, nobody doubts the suitability of the region to apples. Mr. Soons, whose family has grown apples for more than a century, believes it is among the best regions in the country for the fruit.
“It’s the nature of the soils,” he said, “very old, very rocky, decent natural pH and drainage. Apples like them, and the climate is right.”
Most apples, at least. Over the last few years, Mr. Soons has added almost five acres of English cider apples, which, as he and others have learned, are not so well adapted to the Hudson Valley. They are particularly susceptible to fire blight, a withering bacterial disease.
With the English apples they were able to harvest in 2017, Orchard Hill made Bitters and Sharps, which is still aging at the cidery, but is taut, tart and lip-smacking, with great freshness and energy. Another cider, Gold Label, is gently sweet but well-balanced and refreshing. Orchard Hill also makes Ten66 Pommeau, a blend of apple brandy and juice that tastes like a buttery caramel apple. Mixed with tonic, it would make a fine Thanksgiving aperitif.
Mr. Morgenthau at Fishkill Farms and Treasury Cider, too, has faced challenges growing European cider apples. When he returned to his family farm in 2008 with a degree in fine arts, he had intended to practice landscape painting. Instead, he fell in love with farming and apples.
Fishkill was purchased in 1913 by his grandfather Henry Morgenthau Jr., who went on to serve as Treasury secretary under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. His son Robert Morgenthau kept the farm going even as he served from 1975 until 2009 as district attorney in Manhattan, and his son Josh Morgenthau is now in charge.