Milea Estate Vineyards may be making waves as a newer winery in the Hudson Valley, raking in medals left and right, but it all started with apples. In the summer of 2015, Barry Milea, Ed Evans, and Bruce Tripp formed Milea Estate Vineyard. The property had been in Milea’s family since 1984 as a vacation home and the orchards were part of the package. At the time, Evans was the caretaker for the property. With all these apples and no storage, Evans decided to try his hand at cider making. At first, he made a regular cider and then, already well-versed in brewing beer, decided to try a hard cider. “You can only eat so much apple pie”, says Evans, “so I decided to give cider making a shot. After some experimentation it turned out great, so we licensed it.”
In the beginning, they would source local cider apples from within 20 miles of the estate and then use their own (culinary) apples to sweeten back the cider. “The process we use to make our cider is similar to wine”, says Milea. “We only use apples—no sugar, concentrates or chemicals.” Realizing the potential of the land, the proximity to the river, the climate, as well as the Hudson Valley’s cider history they put a focused effort on their cider production. The public took to the ciders right away so the team decided to go ahead and plant their own cider apple trees to eventually have estate ciders available.
The ciders they currently have available are The Jumper Traditional (extra dry), The Jumper Orchard Select, and the Wild Goose Bourbon Barrel-aged cider. The Wild Goose is aged for 3 months in barrels from Hillrock Distillery in Ancram, NY. Evans says they are working on a rosé cider coming in time for the warmer months of 2020.
Evans remarks on what it’s like to work at a very small operation making both wine and cider. “Bruce came on to oversee the viticulture and winemaking. Since we are such a tiny team we all wear many hats”, he says. “Our ciders are made similarly to wine so Bruce and I will collaborate and bounce ideas off one another.”
The Staatsburg, traditional Belgian-style won Best Cider at this year’s Hudson Valley Food & Wine Festival while their other offerings received gold medals. With the recent publicity, people want to get their hands on them. The ciders are already available in numerous locations across the Hudson Valley including highly-curated shops such as Boutique Wines, Spirits & Ciders in Fishkill, Beer Time in Brewster, Arlington Wines and Liquor in Poughkeepsie, and Beer Universe in Kingston. Fear not if you located outside of the Hudson Valley, they are currently self-distributing but have plans to widen their reach. “We are not a big plant, we are a small company so it’s a limited production”, says Evans.
The best place to enjoy a glass is right where it’s made, overlooking the orchards. Milea has a brand new tasting room where guests can sample the ciders as well as their award-winning wines. You can read more about it here. “Our tasting room has a spacious tasting bar with wine and cider served by the glass as well as for tasting”, says Tripp. “We have also included a store where one can purchase our wines and ciders to enjoy at home. A patio with outdoor seating allows our guests to enjoy the spectacular view while enjoying the wine.” Chef dinners and live music will be just some of the things to enjoy there while sipping on these sought-after ciders.
Curious about Milea’s wines? Check out my story for Hudson Valley Wine Magazine.