October 20, 2021

Locke brothers press hard cider business

Joe McIntyre/staff photographer

Jesse Ingall, 25, on Monday discusses the plan to launch Grisamore Cider Works and produce hard cider with his brother, Simon, 31, adding to the family’s Grisamore Farms business at 749 Cowan Road, Locke.

LOCKE — Since 1975, the farm store at Grisamore Farms on 749 Cowan Road has been where people go to purchase all manner of products associated with the fall.

From pumpkins and apples to jellies, jams and maple syrup, it seemed like the farm has all of the fruits, vegetables and other foods people look forward to when the leaves on the trees begin to change colors.

Now, through the efforts of the fifth generation of the Grisamore family, customers can add one more item to that list: hard apple cider.

That’s because Simon Ingall, 31, and Jesse Ingall, 25, the sons of co-owner Betsy Leonard, are using the old family business to launch the Grisamore Cider Works — an endeavor that would have been much harder to do three years ago.

The Ingall Brothers are just two of the many people across the state who have been looking to capitalize on the Farm Cideries law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2013.

The law made it easier for cideries to receive licenses needed to brew hard, or alcoholic, cider so long as ingredients grown in the state are used. The law also gives cider makers the ability to sell their products without having to buy a liquor license and allows them to offer tastings and to sell cider by the bottle.

In a statement from Cuomo’s office released last week, the number of cideries in the state has tripled since the legislation became law from eight in October 2014 to 24 this year.

Simon Ingall said Monday he got the idea to open up his own cidery while working as a photographer in New York City. His friends down there ran a bar and suggested he bring some cider from his family’s farm to ferment and sell.

Soon, making hard cider for a living seemed realistic. After all, his family already has an orchard and a large press to squeeze the juice from the apples. Plus, there was one more perk.

“My family and I wanted to be closer to family and to be back on the farm,” Ingall said. “This was a way for me to hopefully be able to do that.”

Not only did Ingall have the support of his family and the equipment to jump right into the cidery business, he also had a family friend with the largest plum orchard in England.

So in the summer of 2014, he flew to Cam Valley Orchards in Meldreth, England and learned the basics of cider making.

“That’s when I was starting to get serious,” Ingall said. “I wanted to get a hands-on (lesson) with a cider maker.”

When he returned, he shared what he learned with his brother and they got to work.

Jesse Ingall said today, they are designing the labels that will go on the bottles of cider they have stored in a cooler with the hopes of getting them on the shelves by the year’s end.

While Simon Ingall was at work Monday afternoon, Jesse Ingall was back at the farm explaining how he and his brother plan to use only the freshest fruits to create their own unique blends of cider.

“We’re using all our fruit,” he said. “Fruit from our farm like blueberries, cherries and peaches. This year, I’m going to do a blueberry cider. I have 16 gallons of blueberry juice that I’ll add to a batch of cider and hopefully we’ll get that … flavor.”

In addition, they have planted over 300 apple trees in the orchard they operate on 18 acres of land. In a few years time these will yield the apples they plan to use specifically for hard cider.

Jesse Ingall said the goal is not to become a huge cider distributor. If he and his brother can create a high-quality product people enjoy, in his mind, that would make the Grisamore Cider Works a success.

“I just want it to be affordable, available to everyone,” he said. “We want to be really small and someday maybe have a tasting room. A cool hangout … (so) people can walk around the farm drinking our cider and enjoying the place.”