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St. Lawrence Cider made by Kaneb Orchards named best hard cider in state

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MASSENA — When Kaneb Orchards opens for the 2014 season this morning, it will be debuting its first hard cider, the cider that was recently named the best hard cider in New York.

Edward Kaneb Jr., who owns and operates the orchard, described the cider as a “sweet cider,” noting it’s made mostly with dessert apples.

St. Lawrence Cider was one of 20 ciders from around the state sampled by judges from around the world during the annual New York Wine & Food Classic in Watkins Glen.

Nancy Badlam, who serves as marketing coordinator for Kaneb Orchards, said samples were sent for judging with little or no expectation.

“We sent off four samples to them in June and heard nothing from them until last week,” Ms. Badlam said. “They called us at 9:30 Wednesday morning and asked if we could come to Watkins Glen that night to accept our award.”

The award was one of many presented by the New York State Wine & Grape Foundation to a number of wines, beers, ciders and spirits manufactured across the state.

“This is one of the biggest wine competitions in New York state,” Ms. Badlam said, noting more than 830 wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries submitted samples to be judged.

“We were shocked,” Mr. Kaneb said, adding the award for the “best craft cider” was presented by Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy.

Ms. Badlam said that while the feedback they have received on the cider has been positive, the award really validates the orchard’s efforts and foray into the hard cider business.

“We have heard people say this is some of the best cider they’ve ever had, but you never know if they’re just saying that,” she said, noting the competition is often called the “Oscars of wine contests.”

In addition to the award-winning hard cider, all of the orchard’s original offerings — including pies, cookies, traditional cider and the orchard’s famous apple cider donuts — will be available starting at 10 a.m. today.

The orchard is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Mr. Kaneb said the cider will be available in three sizes as long as supplies last; 750 milligrams, 375 milligrams and 250 milligrams, with bottles ranging in price from $5 to $12.95.

“If we sell out, that would be great,” he said, adding that while similar, each batch of cider will be unique.

“Each batch is a little bit different,” Ms. Badlam said. “So when one batch sells out, the next batch will be slightly different.”

Mr. Kaneb said the cider contains 4.9 percent alcohol.

“It’s more than a beer, but less than a wine,” he said.

People interested in sampling the cider prior to making a purchase will have the opportunity to do so, Ms. Badlam said, adding a tasting area will be set up at the orchard.

Mr. Kaneb also added St. Lawrence Cider is only the company’s first hard cider product, with more offerings on the horizon.

“We’re also working on a cranberry cider,” he said.

Ms. Badlam said that cider, called Cranberry Crisp, will be available in the near future, possibly next week.

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