WALLINGFORD – Apples from Blue Hills Orchard are being made into cider due to a new partnership with a Massachusetts-based cidery.
The orchard on Blue Hills Road has been family-owned and operated in Wallingford since 1904. The orchard sprawls over 300 acres with 250 acres in apple production and over 30 acres in peaches, plums, and nectarines.
Eric Henry, the current owner, is the great-great-grandson of the original owner, William Henry. Alongside his wife, mother, and four children that all came back home to work on the farm, they grow high quality fruit both for pick-your-own and for New England apple cider producers.
Recently Eric Henry got into contact with the hard cider brand, Stormalong, through a mutual contact at the fresh cider producer he’s worked with for years.
Stormalong is a craft cidery based in Massachusetts but it has been growing increasingly popular in the surrounding area, cropping up in more and more Connecticut liquor stores every month.
Together using the farm’s McIntosh, Honeycrisp, Gala, Empire, Cortland, and Macoun apples, they’ve created an unfiltered hard cider which Henry says is “reminiscent of our farm stand cider pressed and sold at harvest.”
When asked about the partnership with Blue Hills Orchard, Shannon Edgar, founder of Stormalong cider said, “Eric and his family are fantastic fruit growers spanning generations. They are a substantial grower and harvest a wide variety of apples and other fruit. We jumped at the opportunity of working with them on a hard cider that could really showcase their passion for the apples they grow. We decided to make an 'unfiltered' hard cider that is similar to Blue Hills freshly pressed farm stand cider. The fresh apple aroma and taste profile of this cider was a great way to showcase the orchard and the fruits of our labor.”
The hard cider is crisp and refreshing without being too cloyingly sweet. It’s naturally gluten free with no added sugars, water, or concentrates.
Henry happens to have Celiac Disease himself, meaning he can’t have typical gluten-filled beers. So he is no stranger to hard cider and thoroughly enjoys having this option available so close to home.
The cider is not a limited release and will be available permanently, year-round.
You can find the Blue Hills Orchard Stormalong cider all across the state. It’s available on tap at many local restaurants and package stores. Henry says the family is considering getting more into crafting hard cider at the orchard in the future.
Meaghan Penrod lives in Connecticut and is the creator of the gluten free food blog Low Key Gluten Free. She shares recipes, restaurant finds, products, and tips for living with Celiac Disease. You can follow her at @lowkeyglutenfree on Instagram and Facebook or check out her blog at lowkeyglutenfree.com.