This week, I chat with a couple that makes phenomenal cider in New Hampshire at Farnum Hill. It’s all orchard-based from their own land at Poverty Lane Orchards. In fact, it’s all made right there on-site in a repurposed barn.
Steve Wood and Louisa Spencer have made a life with their cider, but in recent years as the sort of pseudo-craft-cider boom has created both momentum and vulnerability in the cider category, things have gotten a bit out of whack. After all, what is craft cider if it’s not up to par with orchard-based traditional cider? It’s a bit like starting up a craft beer craze when you already have Hill Farmstead and Jester King around.
But that’s what’s happened in cider as these traditional orchardists have had to start competing alongside some fairly mundane cider in canned six packs. It’s a blessing and a curse. The size of the pie increases, but the consumer is more confused than ever before.
Despite that quandary, Farnum Hill is growing. They’re building an entirely new cider house next to the old barn, and hoping the future is as bright as it seems.
I stopped by on a whim. I was simply in the area for a wedding this summer and wasn’t going to miss my chance to visit one of my favorite cider producers in the world. So this interview starts a bit spontaneously as Steve expected a chat, and I quickly realized that he and his partner Louisa needed to sit down and talk some things out. It starts abruptly and ends abruptly, but that’s what oral history sounds like. And I treasure this conversation.