CASTLETON — Boyden Valley Winery is more than doubling its annual cider order from Brown’s Orchard on Route 30, a whopping 40,000 gallons this year, to meet growing demand for their ciders, cider wines, liqueurs and hard ciders, orchard proprietor Charlie Brown said Thursday.
“Everything helps in this day and age,” Brown said. “You have to get your supply of apples, make sure to get the right apples. That’s why they chose us: We know what we’re doing.”
Brown said his orchard, which has been in his family since 1926, has been supplying cider to Boyden Valley since the winery opened in 1997, starting with 500 gallon-orders and increasing to 15,000 gallons in previous years.
“We don’t have a big orchard,” Brown said. “We have a little over 10 or 12 acres. We just know how to use it properly — don’t let anything go to waste.”
Twenty-one years since the Cambridge winery began, Boyden Valley’s order has increased 80 times because of a growing market for its diverse array of fermented and distilled cider-based beverages, said Bridget Jones, general manager of Boyden Valley.
Brown said he normally makes his cider from a secret recipe of Northern Spy, Ida Red, Honey Crisp, McIntosh and Empire apples, but Boyden gets a mix all its own.
“We get the vast majority of our cider from Charlie Brown,” said Jones. “We buy the cider, and tell him which apples we like him to use. He makes a proprietary batch, just for us.”
In addition to turning Brown’s prize cider into Vermont Ice dry hard cider, Boyden also presses local cranberries from the Vermont Cranberry Co. for Cran-Bog Cider, black currants for Royale Cider, and uses local clover honey for its dry-hopped Honey Hopper Cider, which uses citra and cascade hops.
“We also use it in our gold leaf dessert wine, which has very heavy maple with the northern spy apple base,” Jones said. “We age that in American oak for two years, so it has a toasty vanilla finish. We also use his cider in our Vermont Maple Reserve, which was the very first wine we started making as the first licensed winery in Vermont.”
Jones said they also use Brown’s cider in Vermont Ice Cider, a very sweet dessert cider, as well as in their Vermont Ice Maple Creme, and distilled it into a brandy for Pomme Noir and Pomme Noir de Glace, a pommeau blend of Vermont Ice Cider and Pomme Noir.
“The products we sell in store are pretty much exclusively Charlie Brown,” Jones said. “When we see an increase in purchase, he sees an increase in our buying. If we can buy Vermont and buy local, we always do.”
Jones said Boyden Valley ciders and wines, many of which are available in refillable flip-top bottles so customers can bring them back to be refilled at locations in Cambridge and Waterbury, have enjoyed such an increase in popularity that owner David Boyden approached Brown just over a year ago to request an increased order.
“We’ve worked with him the whole time we’ve been open,” Jones said. “David has had a longstanding relationship with Charlie. We hope to buy even more. The cider market has expanded, so we’re expanding our production of what people want.”
Jones said the winery is already receiving the sweet fruits of Brown’s labor, and are setting right to work fermenting the cider into next year’s wines.
For those without enormous fermentation tanks and stills, the label on Charlie Brown’s famous UV-treated apple cider gives specific instructions on how to give his cider an extra kick the good old-fashioned way, right in the gallon: “If you’re out to make it hard, set it right in the sunny yard.”