As you know, apple farming and cider making are an art. Bear in mind though, "art" is the root word of "artificial." This might come as a surprise to some but, art and nature are etymological opposite paths. We are attracted to the arts of cider, wine, and farming for their personal reward, we develop hopes for the outcome, but having spent 25 years foraging truly wild apples I’m in the unique position to say human expectation and manipulation ARE factors in my work too, even if we’ve built a reputation for advocating “natural agriculture.”
The fact is, apple trees can –and do –survive independently of Man (the root of the word “manipulation”) but I’ve also spent the past 17 years trying to grow apples with minimal intervention on our farm. This of course, carries into cider too but both arts are a study of the human relationship to nature. Personally, I they challenge assumptions about the “artifice” of agriculture.
... The truest natural cider and terroir can only be done OFF the farm. This is why despite having a natural orchard of our own, most of our fruit comes from wild-foraged apples integrated in the bigger world. “Real trees”, for instance, are grown from seed as opposed to being born from cloning tissue-culture. Whereas nearly 100% of all modern farmed plants are selected gene clones, real apple trees exhibit a staggering genetic diversity -exponentially more so than humans, in fact. Because genetics plays a role in environmental adaptation it’s the wild seedling trees that best express the secrets of acclimation to each location (also, seedling trees are not "planted" in broken, amended soils.) The goal of our "locational" ciders is to let the adaptation to nature tell the story. Therefore it wouldn’t make sense to manipulate the ciders beyond simple racking and bottling. We bottle in the spring just before final sugar completion and they finish off dry with slight natural carbonation. That's it, pretty simple, though still an art.
-For more information on our experiments I have written a book which has been picked up by Chelsea Green Publishing. It’s “Uncultivated”, and it's due out in 2019. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send the update! –Andy Brennan