Good Fruit Grower

August 2013

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Cider makers WORK IN TANDEM L ike some other good scientists, Dr. Nikki Rothwell has integrated her private life and her work life in complicated ways. Her "day job" is directing the Northwest Michigan Horticultural Research Center, located in apple and cherry country about 15 miles northwest of Traverse City on the Leelanau Peninsula. She oversees research there and works with growers in northwest Michigan. Her other work is operating a cidery, called Tandem Ciders, with her husband, Dan Young. The cidery's symbol is a tandem bicycle—the "bicycle built for two"—that grew out of a biking trip she and Young took across England ten years ago. Rothwell met Young while doing work for her doctorate. Young ran a brew pub in Massachusetts that offered beer and cider on draft. Both cycling enthusiasts, they decided, after knowing each other for several years, to take a bicycle trip across England. The bike trip became punctuated by frequent stops at artisan cider houses. "I was really tired of warm, flat beer and iceless gin and tonics," by Richard Lehnert she said. Cider in England is as common as beer in the United States, often available side by side on draft. The experience greatly increased their appreciation for what the English simply call cider (no need to use the word "hard")—a low-alcohol beverage made by fermenting apple juice. After their trip, they married and moved to Michigan, where Rothwell took a job with Michigan State University. A few years later they started Tandem Ciders, which sold its first bottles in 2008. The cidery is a full-time occupation for Young. He makes cider in facilities in the back room and basement and serves and sells cider to the public seven days a week. Rothwell has become a "scientific activist" in the budding cider business in Michigan. She might share that title with Cornell University's Dr. Ian Merwin, who's doing much the same in New York State. Rothwell came to the Northwest Station in the fall of 2004, where she found the earlier superintendent had made a planting to evaluate apples for their hard cider potential. She gladly took over that task. "I'm helping the industry find varieties that work for everybody," she said. She wants them to be grower friendly and yet fill the special needs of cider makers. While Merwin has an orchard of antique and specialized cider varieties that he sells to cider makers, Rothwell and Young seek out apples from growers, who are recogTandem Ciders offers a nized on the labels. On the Tandem Ciders Web page, 11 free tasting of four ciders are listed, each with details. Cidre Royal, for examdraft ciders and, for a ple, is described as "deeply colored and flavored," made dollar each, a tasting of from McIntosh, Northern Spy, Rhode Island Greening, bottled cider, including IdaRed, Golden Delicious and Winter Banana. The apples Pomona, a blend of hard came from Christmas Cove Farm, Schultz Orchards, and cider and apple brandy. Michigan hard cidery builds on science and tradition. 42 AUGUST 2013 GOOD FRUIT GROWER

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