Over the last year, we have worked with the Orthodox Union to obtain our Kosher Certification. It has been a pleasure working with Rabbi Alan Rosenzweig and Rabbi Nachum Rabinowitz, and I’d like to share a little bit of our family history, and explain what it means to us to be OU certified.

Rootstock Cider and Spirits grew out of our family business, DeFisher Fruit Farms. We started farming in New York State five generations ago, when my great-great grandfather William DeFisher emigrated to the US from Holland in the early 1900’s. Over time, our farm specialized in growing tree fruit. We grew primarily apples, in addition to pears, tart and sweet cherries, peaches, and other specialty stone fruit. We planted apples for the processing industry – fruit prized for its sugar, acidity, and flavor.

In the 1990’s, the farm faced pressure to operate on the low-margin wholesale processing fruit market, so our current owner, Dave DeFisher, decided to innovate the business by adding an agritourism component to the farm. He launched a seasonal Haunted Hayride event which has continued to draw thousands of visitors to the farm each October for over twenty years.

Inspired by new ways to share the farm with a wider audience, Dave opened a farm distillery in 2010, which is known today as Rootstock Spirits . In 2014, following the success of Rootstock Spirits, we continued to develop our craft beverage business, and launched Rootstock Ciderworks. The goal of Rootstock Cider and Spirits is to produce award winning hand-crafted spirits, hard ciders, and perry made entirely with fruit grown on DeFisher Fruit Farms.

We offer a wide range of ciders and spirits. At Rootstock spirits, we make a vodka distilled entirely from apples, and offer a range of flavored vodkas for mixologists to work with, whether at home or behind the bar. We also make brandies from apples, cherries, pears, and plums, each drawing inspiration from traditional, old-world style noble brandies – robust aromatics, rich flavor, and no sugar added.

Perhaps our most unique, and certainly most popular spirit, is our line of Applejacks. Applejack has a rich history, and has been enjoyed for centuries in the United States. It is an apple brandy which has been aged in a used bourbon barrel for a minimum of two years. Perfect served neat, or with just a chip of ice.

We use a range of styles in our approach to hard ciders and perry. When it comes to hard cider, it all depends on the type of apples you use. Just as wine is made from specific grapes, each of our ciders is made using a unique blend of apples. For example, Rootstock Original, our flagship cider, is made using only Piñata and Ida Red Apples. We also offer premium ciders, such as our 2020 Heritage, which is made using fruit from forty-year-old Heritage apple trees.

We also like to push the boundaries of what defines a cider, so we also offer modern ciders, which use ingredients other than apples or pears. For instance, some of our ciders are infused with cascade hops, and others are infused with fresh-picked plums.

I am pleased to mention that all the products I’ve described so far are certified Kosher by the Orthodox Union. We are very excited to work with Orthodox Union and obtain certification for our cidery and distillery.

Our business philosophy here is centered around paying homage to our roots as a family of growers. Both our spirits and ciders draw inspiration from traditional methods of distillation and cidermaking, with special care to use the highest quality fruit available to us. I’ve appreciated how this respect for tradition is in line with the approach to OU Certification.

Obtaining our Kosher Certification also allows us to make our products more accessible. We started Rootstock Cider and Spirits to share our family’s history and pride with a wider audience. Now, whether it’s for a holiday, or just a simple get-together, we’re happy that our kosher-keeping customers can serve Rootstock Cider and Spirits!

Luke DeFisher, General Manager, Rootstock Cider and Spirits.