The Twin Star Orchards in New Paltz serve a dual purpose. On one hand, the land will be the sustainable source of raw material for the owners’ newly established hard cider business, Brooklyn Cider House. On the other hand, the orchards on North Ohioville Road are also home to a traditional Hudson Valley apple-picking operation, complete with farm stand featuring cider donuts and homemade pies along with artisanal food and beverages from other New York State producers. The farm stand includes a tasting bar for the cider and other handcrafted alcoholic beverages, and giving a twist to it all, the covered pavilion outside houses a wood-fired pizza oven and grill serving up tasty fare to enjoy with that hard cider at picnic tables in the bucolic setting overlooking a pond.
Project manager Lindsey Storm is working with the orchard’s principal owner, Peter Yi, on setting up the site for springtime activity after a successful first season last fall. Because the land served as a commercial apple business for decades — owned by twin brothers, hence the name “Twin Star” — the land didn’t have to be planted from scratch. But they did replace some of the old trees with heirloom cider variety trees; nearly 8,000 two-year-old trees were planted in late April, expected to bear fruit a few years from now. “Not all the land is plantable,” says Storm, “because part of it is wetlands, but we have about 80 to 100 acres planted now. When we first began taking out some of the old trees, people were concerned that we were going to develop the land, but we were just prepping to plant more trees.”
In addition to the cider varieties, the orchards grow eating apples that include Cortlands, Golden Delicious, Gala, McIntosh, Fuji and Macouns.
“Our goal is to plan ahead for the future, reinvesting in the orchards,” Storm says. “Apple growing is a very labor-intensive, costly line of business, but we want the land to be self-sustaining for our cider-making purpose while still offering seasonal apple-picking and the farm stand, which supports other producers like ourselves. It’s a small community [of makers] and we like the idea of not only the collaboration with others in the state but also the mutual support. We’re excited this year to spread our wings a bit and see how the local community feels about it all; we hope they’ll embrace it.”
The Brooklyn Cider House business is located in Brooklyn, although some of the fermenting is done at the orchards in New Paltz. A combination restaurant and tasting room for the cidery is currently under construction on Flushing Avenue in Brooklyn, with plans to open this October. In addition to developing a patronage for the cider at that location, the goal is to open city eyes to the beauty of the orchards in New Paltz, which would serve as a destination close enough to visit the source of it all.
Storm comes from a background in Wall Street finance, but she grew up in the country in western Massachusetts and left the financial hubbub behind in favor of managing the orchards in order to pursue more meaningful work she could feel more connected to, she says. Storm divides her time now between the city and New Paltz. Locating an orchard here came about because Yi’s business partners, his sister Susan and friend Mikel Martiarena, were avid rock climbers and attracted to all that this region offers in the way of natural places and outdoor activities.
The farm stand is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The pavilion and its wood-fired pizza oven will offer a few varieties of pizza consistently along with some specials along the way, all made with locally produced product. “We hope to have sandwiches and charcuterie plates, too, that people can enjoy cider with and showcase those other local products,” says Storm. “We’re so new, having only been open one season, that we’re going to wait and see what people want and adjust accordingly. We’re very flexible, so if people want us to carry something, we will. Nothing is set in stone.”
Twin Star Orchards is located at 155 North Ohioville Road. More information is available at (845) 633-8657 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook.