Embark Craft Ciderworks – Fun, With a Cider, for Everyone
In May of 2019 we took a weekend trip to the Finger Lakes region of New York. Many call this area Wine Country, and they’re not wrong. But we weren’t going for wine – we were seeking cider. And we found it. The terroir of Western New York is fantastic for growing apples. Wayne County NY, where our journey started, is the 3rd largest apple producing county in the United states. It’s more than Wine Country – it’s Cider County.
Our first stop was Embark Craft Ciderworks, co-owned by Jake and Mitzi Lagoner. The way there was lined with orchards, and as we got close, the orchards became those of Lagoner family, 5th generation farmers and orchardists. We pulled into what looked like a farm market with cider making operations in the back, which is exactly what we found when we stepped inside. Fresh, local goods lined the shelves (with cider mixed in). After checking out the market we grabbed seats over by the cider bar. With 14 Embark Ciders on tap we had some hard choices to make but ended up deciding on the Crab Series 1 & 2, Pippin, Rosé, and American Heirloom. All were really well done ciders, but my personal favorite was the Crab Series 2. We also had gluten-free beet salads (mine had goat cheese, as well) and fries.
As we tasted each cider, Mitzi found us and introduced herself, letting us know that Jake was on his way (I had reached out and talked to him prior to our visit). We talked a bit and got a few more recommendations on ciders to try. Jake arrived and after chatting for a while about cider he took us back to the production area to see how they do things. Fresh apples are ground, pressed, fermented, aged, and bottled/canned all on-site. There were some barrels in the back, filled with all sorts of cider and heirloom apples, aging and awaiting bottling. Jake said when they first started selling cider to the public, he figured they’d make a few thousand gallons and see how it went. It’s safe to say it’s going well, because they’re on track to produce 75,000 gallons of cider this year!
Jake then asked, “Do you have a car?” which we did. Followed by “Can it make it through an orchard?” which it could. So, we all hopped into our Forester and took a drive, through rows and rows of culinary, heirloom and cider apples in the 200-acre onsite orchard. Jake showed us the older parts of the orchard where the more established trees live, and the younger parts with the heirloom and cider varieties. In all, they grow about 100 unique varieties of apples. We also took note of the bee boxes, filled with bees which were hard at work pollinating the blossoming trees after an unusually rainy start to the season.
After making our way back to the building we tried a few more ciders: The Batch (Semi-Sweet) and Old Marauder (Dry), which are made from the same must but fermented to different sweetness levels. The amount of residual sugar in each creates two completely different cider profiles – you’ll want to taste them side by side. Before heading out we picked up some mixed packs of cider to take home and got a bottle of the then-unreleased (but now available!) Golden Russet Reserve, a Single Variety cider and their soon-to-be-released Ice Cider. Jake, Mitzi and the rest of the Embark crew were so incredibly hospitable and knowledgeable on cider and it was great to nerd out with them. As we walked out to the Forester we were already planning our next visit!
Why We Loved Visiting
Embark Craft Ciderworks/Lagoner Farms offers something fun for everyone with a wide selection of food and drink that will please all ages. The food menu has a variety of options for any diet, so no one will leave hungry. Their cider lineup is the same, with complex ciders made from heirloom and cider apples for the purists, modern ciders for the casual cider sipper, and exploratory ciders like their Milkshake line made with milk sugar and fruit adjuncts for the latitudinarian. You will not regret a visit to Embark not matter who you bring or what kind of cider you enjoy.
Embark Cider Fest
Every September, Embark hosts a cider festival where you can enjoy Embark's cider along with other local producers' – over 20 cideries are pouring this year! 2019's Emabrk Cider Fest will be held on Friday, September 27th. Any visit to Embark will be great, but their Cider Fest is sure to be fun for all!