Pitcher Lane in Red Hook is one of those absurdly scenic Dutchess County roads (there are plenty, just take any wrong turn and you’ll be lost in rolling hills, among greener pastures, forgetting where you were going.) It’s Americana meets historic farmland with a little bit of money and a lot a bit of taste.
An aerial view shows a patchwork quilt of agricultural fields, in the midst of which you’ll find Greig Farm. Itself a much-lauded fruit orchard and U-pick destination, Greig Farm is also the gravitational field containing a small constellation of businesses. There’s O-Zone, a zero-waste sustainability center with a bulk refill restore and educational programming; portrait artist Drew Miller’s Harvest Studio Gallery and art class space; SoHu Artisan Market, a multi-maker retail space; the farm’s own market and deli; and, parked in an Airstream in the parking lot, Papa’s Best Batch, serving up “life-changing sammiches” (barbecue) and smoked nuts, jerky, and other snacks.
A New Watering Hole
The latest to join the farm’s orbit is Abandoned Hard Cider, which took over the ground floor of the big barn for its second tasting room earlier this month. (Their first is on Route 28 in Woodstock). When you walk into Abandoned’s spacious Red Hook tap room, to your right you’ll see a sprawling 16-foot map of the Catskills and Hudson Valley with pins marking spots where the Abandoned crew forages apples from. “I’ve run out of pins,” says the cidery’s co-founder Martin Bernstein with a laugh. “We really get apples from a lot of places. It's an intriguing visual, but it also represents the core of what we do.” That is: using a forgotten resource to create a delicious product of place with renewed relevance.
Come fall, Bernstein and his business partner, Eric Childs, will jump in the truck and run their ever-growing circuit around the region, combing through abandoned orchards, climbing trees in backyards and front yards, stalking mountainsides, and stopping on road shoulders to collect their bounty. “What we don't have that some other cideries do is an orchard,” Bernstein says. “That makes them very place-based. But our core business model is inherently nomadic. So it makes sense for us to set up tasting rooms sort of wherever our people are. Where we get our apples from will dictate where our tasting rooms open.”
At the bar running along the wall opposite the map, order from the seven dry ciders currently on tap: Vacation (with tropical infusions of guava and passionfruit), Hopped (self-explanatory, good for transitional beer drinkers), Barrel-Aged (on the sweeter end), Classic (crisp ‘n’ clean, like apple Champagne), Golden Russet (an elegant single-variety cider), Foragers Reserve (made from the cream of the crop apples), or the Basque-style Upstate Sidra (delightfully balanced and complex). Or pull a pro move and order a flight to sample five.
Once you’ve made your tough decisions, head outside to sit at one of the many picnic tables and revel in the bucolic setting—a pond and rows of fruit trees spread out before you, and in the far-off distance, across an unseen Hudson, the Catskills. If you stay long enough, you can see the sun set over the mountains. If you’re feeling munchy, head to the farm store for provisions like charcuterie, cheese, and crackers, or hop over to the Airstream for a barbecue platter from Papa’s.
Long before the taproom became a reality, the Greig Farm store was one of Abandoned Cider’s biggest wholesale accounts—a helpful signpost pointing to the area’s appetite for their product. The onsite tasting room was in the works even pre-Woodstock location, but COVID derailed conversations for over a year. “When we saw that this was something we liked doing, could handle doing, and wanted to do more of, we reached back out to the Greig Family last fall to see if they still had a space,” Bernstein says. Now, things have come full circle, and he intends to stay put.
“It would be fun if we became a mainstay for the locals,” says Bernstein, who lives five minutes up the road with his family. “There are a lot of people around here that are looking for something fun to do that’s not too expensive, some place that you can just walk in and hang out after work. I want this to be the kind of place you can come from no matter who you are or where you’re coming from.”
Event planning has already begun with some Sip & Paint sessions on the calendar with neighboring artist Drew Miller. Trivia is on the docket, and come fall, there will be outdoor movie nights with films projected on the side of the barn. The Woodstock location continues to host monthly concerts on Wednesday nights drawing local talent like Gem Jr., James Felice, and Al Olender, as well as neighbor-conscious Quiet Hours: Silent Discos, where everyone dances in their own bubble of sound.
“I’ve always wondered: What is that magic when a business that just starts takes off and you hear about it through the grapevine. How does that happen?” says Bernstein, when asked about Abandoned Cider’s rapidly growing cult following. He credits the outposts’ manager Ally Britton with being a source of connection in the community and a catalyst for events. “Having the right people involved in the project is really crucial, and Ally has been instrumental.”
As for future outposts? A third is in the works, with up to five total possible under Abandoned’s farm cidery license. “We’re taking it one a step at a time,” Bernstein says. “We’re trying to find the balance of wholesale and retail—you run out of inventory pretty quickly. There is only so much we can produce at a time so we have to not get too far ahead of ourselves, opening up lots of new territories and outposts without having the production in place. They’re growing pains, but at least we’re growing.”
Abandoned Cider Outpost at Greig Farm
227 Pitcher Lane, Red Hook, NY 12571
Thursday 2-8pm, Friday and Saturday 12-8pm, Sunday 12-6pm