Originally Told: June 21 2017
Admittedly, I don't know much about cider, haven’t tried a lot of cider. The cider I have had is mostly too sweet, so historically I have passed it over for beer. But, I’ve learned my lesson. Similar to my experiences with tart and sour tasting beers, I have revisited certain styles, reserving judgement until I am confident I have tried enough and enough of quality to truly make a ruling. Enter Westwind Orchard & Cidery in Accord NY.
Originally started in the 1930s, the Chizzola family bought the orchard in 2002. Maintaining the original name, Westwind Orchard, the property has been a labor of love from the start. Today, after 15 years of clearing brush, adding honey bees, and planting fruits and vegetables such as pears, apples, plums, cherries, winter squash and berries, the farm is destination for locals and visitors to the area. In 2008, Westwind became a certified organic farm, and continues to add other provisions such as maple syrup, jams, honey and apple sauce. The Chizzolas “strongly believe in LOCAL FOOD and OUR COMMUNITY,” and that commitment is felt as soon as you step on the property.
On a cold and wet October Saturday, we set out for the Hudson Valley from Boston. Before checking into our hotel, we opted to visit Westwind as we passed through. Getting out of the car after the 3.5 hour car ride, we stretch, throw on a water proof jacket and head in.
As you walk onto the property, straight ahead lies a barn-type structure with the Westwind Orchard logo. Picnic tables are scattered in the grass and under the cover of the building. Fire pits are interspersed with the picnic tables, giving the feeling of a campsite. To the right is the store, selling products and provisions made on site, and off to the back right is a small structure with smoke coming from it, the pizza oven.
Maybeth and I enter the store and get a lay of the land. We decide not to “pick our own” that day due to the weather, although you can pick apples, berries and pears from August to October (check their site for seasonal availability). We grab hot cider to warm up and place our pizza order.
While we wait, we walk around the property, investigating the bin filled with small pumpkins, warming our hands by one of the fires, and chatting with the other visitors. There are couples, families, and dogs. The woman working the oven calls our names and we head over to grab our pizza.
Now, I love pizza. Like love. Have eaten a lot of pizza. In different cities. In Italy. This pizza is incredible. A nice oven char, but not too burnt. Just the right proportions of sauce and cheese. Add a few leaves of fresh basil. If I moved to Upstate NY and Suarez was going to be my “local bar,” Westwind would be my “local pizza joint.”
After eating, we head back to the store to make some purchases and try the hard cider. Tastings are done in the store and Westwind serves (along with the pizza) their hard cider on weekends from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. Bottles are also available for purchase on site.
Westwind currently works with Andy Brennan of Aaron Burr Cidery (who describes cider as “America’s original table wine”) to produce its hard cider. As of now, Westwind bottles 3 varieties: Classic (all apple), Raspberry (a rose-esque cider), and the latest addition, Goldrush Cider. We sample each and I start to question my impression of ciders. These are delicious. They are dry, crisp ciders… not at all the sweet, syrupy ciders reminiscent of apple juice that I have had in the past.
Similar to my Dark Lord Day resolution, I decide to open my mind to cider. Since then, I have regularly ordered it over beer on many occasions. We have a fall trip already planned to the Hudson Valley, and a (hopefully warmer) trip to Westwind Orchard to hang at the picnic tables, pick apples, eat pizza, and drink more of their delicious cider is definitely on the itinerary. And starting this year, Westwind Orchard is building its own cidery and will begin pressing their own apples in 2017!