Vermont's Shacksbury Cider rethinks your favorite fall drink
Photo courtesy of Shacksbury Cider
Shacksbury Cider's David Dolginow moved to Vermont to bring the outdoors into his life. After settling in the verdant scapes of the Champlain Valley, Dolginow realized that the Green Mountain State offered more than adventure terrain and breathtaking panorama. His Vermont valley has, he believes, all the delicious potential to produce fine ciders that California's Napa had for wine. As autumn and apple season arrive in earnest, we spoke with David about those amber hues, subtle bubbles, and the secrets of the orchard.
Courtesy of Shacksbury Cider
Tell me about Shacksbury Cider. What inspired you to do what you start your business?
We believe that the Champlain Valley of Vermont is poised to become the Napa Valley of cider. We have exceptional soil and climate for growing apples, fantastic orchardists who already produce world-class eating apples, and several burgeoning and talented cider makers. The only ingredient that we are missing is the proper varieties of cider apples. Just like with grapes, there are some apples for eating and others for cider making. We are leading the charge to plant and make cider exclusively from cider apples, like Yarlington Mills, Wickson, Dabinett, and Somerset Redstreak.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love the smell of apples as they're being pressed.
What do you find most challenging?
Our biggest challenge to date has been explaining how cider can be dry, complex, and food-friendly, just like fine wine. Most people think of cider as very sweet and very bubbly, but they aren't all that way. Our Basque cider, for instance, has no residual sugar and tastes of citrus zest and sunlight.
Why did you settle in Vermont? What do you think makes living and working here special?
I settled in Vermont because of the incredible ease of access to outdoor recreation, whether it be hiking, skiing, biking, climbing, swimming, or something else altogether. I think that's also the most special aspect of living in the Green Mountain State. Just about every outdoor activity is affordable and easy to engage in.
Which of your current projects/products are you most excited about right now and why?
We are loving our Classic cider right now. It combines heirloom English cider apples with bright acidity and a touch of sweetness for a balanced and refreshing yet complex, sparkling cider. The Classic drinks well by itself or with food.
Courtesy of Shackbury Cider
What’s a dream project or collaboration that you‘d love to do?
We collaborate with a cider maker in England and in Spain, two of the world's oldest cider producing regions, and we've been on the hunt for a French cider maker. Their cider is very apple-y, has a bit of natural sweetness, and has a lower alcohol volume. Basically, it's the perfect lunchtime cider, and we would love to produce one.
Who are some designers, makers, or independent businesses that you find inspiring in Vermont and why?
The Clementine Store in Middlebury, owned by Emily Blistein, is one of the most inspiring businesses in Vermont or otherwise. She has incredible relationships with both her suppliers and her customers, and her shop and online market are both beautifully designed and have the best inventory.
Courtesy of Shacksbury Cider
Where do you go when you need some creative inspiration for a new project?
I head to the orchard. It all starts there for us, with the fruit. I cut my teeth working at Sunrise Orchards in Cornwall, and it's one of the most inspiring places in the world. In the morning, the sun rises over the Green Mountains and lightens up the eastern facing orchard.
Words by Lucie Shelly
Interview by Mark High