Fly Creek Cider Mill has been the scene of apple pressing for 158 years with very few interruptions. The mill is situated on Fly Creek, where several other mills once provided many of the necessities for the area residents. It has served the local community in a variety of ways over the years.
“Back in the time before Prohibition, most of the families would bring their apples to be pressed and they would take their cider home,” said William “Bill” Michaels, second-generation owner of Fly Creek Cider Mill and Orchard. “When my parents bought this property in 1964, they wanted the house, and they got the mill. My dad was a carpenter and my mother was an art teacher and artist. They turned part of the mill into a shop. In the early days, people would bring hundreds of apples to press into cider, but as time went on, it was less and less. It got so that we would have a mother driving up in her station wagon with kids in the car and two bushels of apples.”
Michaels said the mill was used as a woodworking shop, and a retail store for his mother’s dried floral arrangements. The man who owned the mill before the Michaels family still lived nearby, and regaled the family with stories of the mill’s heyday.
When Michaels and his wife, Brenda, bought the property in 1999, the mill was still operational. Bill Michaels decided to take the mill to another level honoring the history central to Fly Creek. Today, apple pressing is still central to what goes on at the mill, but the business has expanded to include much more.
“We have had steady growth,” Bill Michaels said. “Our only setback was in 2006 when we had a devastating flood here. The water was up to my waist all over the property. The old barn was just destroyed, we rebuilt and expanded our online store.”
Fly Creek Cider Mill has an active online store, as well as drawing tourists as well as area residents as a family-friendly destination. Bill Michaels said he is excited about the history of the mill and the future of the company. The property has been expanded several times and now include a café, playground, walking trail and many homemade products including fudge, candy, cheese, wines and ciders. Most of the items are available for tasting from April to December when the mill is open to the public.
“This cider is very good,” said Bobby Bracchitta of Lincoln Park, N.J., who was visiting Fly Creek Cider Mill on Thursday. “I like hard cider and this is good.”
Fly Creek uses all New York-grown ingredients for the beverages and edibles it produces. The mill contracts for several Riesling wines and sweet, fruity blended wines. The mill still uses the original mechanisms for producing its cider. The pre-industrial way of mechanics used basic laws of physics including gravity to produce the goods that earlier residents enjoyed.
“We have really good wines and hard ciders,” said Tim Walker, who on Thursday was offering tastes of Fly Creek Riesling, fruit wines and hard ciders. “I grew up a couple of doors down from Bill and his family. I went off and had a career in the Air Force — lived in Sicily for three years. I know wine and this is good wine.”