Hard cider lovers take note — plans are in the works for a new cider mill and tasting room in Riverhead.
Greg Ferraro of food distribution company J. Kings Food Service Professionals and Andy Calimano of Starfish Junction — which is behind the popular local cider festival Pour the Core — envision a destination cider making, bottling and tasting facility on Sound Avenue, it was revealed this week.
“We have an opportunity to take advantage of the trend in hard cider, which is probably the fastest growing beverage in the adult market,” Calimano said.
The pair discussed the project, which would be called Riverhead Ciderhouse and would be located inside the existing Grapes and Greens agricultural processing and storage facility on Sound Avenue, at a Riverhead Industrial Development Agency meeting on Tuesday.
Grapes and Greens was started by J. Kings Food Service Professionals in 2012 with support from the Long Island Farm Bureau, as well as a $500,000 state grant.
“Grapes and Greens hasn’t flourished to the level they would like to see, so there are portions of the building that are vacant,” said IDA director Tracy Stark.
The team behind the cider house plans on using New York State apples, and, if they’re available, local apples, Calimano said. However, they plan to buy the juice from upstate orchards, rather than actually crushing the apples themselves, because there’s less waste involved, he said.
In addition to the cider production space, Riverhead Ciderhouse also plans to run a bottling facility, which could be used by other local cider makers as well, Calimano said.
The company would start out small, with four to six employees, and then add about four to six more each year, Ferraro said. There would be a full-time cider maker and assistant cider maker, as well as a full-time manager and assistant manager at the proposed cider center, where customers could sample the cider, according to Mr. Ferraro.
There would also be some part-time positions and Greg Gove, winemaker and cidermaker at the former Peconic Bay Winery, will also be involved, he said.
Ferraro has also proposed some new landscaping and building facade changes outside the existing facility.
The project will cost about $3 million, according to Ferraro.
The IDA, which grants tax breaks to attract businesses to the area, is planning to hold an April 6 public hearing on Riverhead Ciderhouse’s application seeking IDA benefits.