Interview with Alex Wilson, Owner of Wayside Cider Tap Room in the Catskills
This week, we're chatting with Alex Wilson, co-founder of one of the Catskills most impressive cideries, Wayside Cider. Alex and his partner are breathing fresh life into the Hudson Valley drink scene with their curated tasting room and epic lineup of live tunes, DJ's, and guest chefs.
Read on for an insider look at this stellar cidery and the creative team making it happen.
Q: You started Wayside Cider in 2014 and have been hand picking, processing, and bottling exceptional product ever since. What prompted you to open a cidery and what was the journey to making it happen?
As a child I remember taking a sip of my parents cider in Normandy (France) and being enchanted by it. I think that’s when I first got hooked. There was something special about the culture that surrounded the small cideries and orchards of northern France and the west of England. Unpretentious, yet sophisticated.
Many years later we bought a place in the Catskills - I instantly noticed all the old abandoned cider apple trees. I bought myself a press and started making cider - to my surprise my friends and family really enjoyed it. I entered one of my ciders in a local cider making competition, winning second prize. The lady who won first prize turned out to be Irene, my now business partner and co-founder at Wayside.
Q: You said in a previous interview that cider is a social drink. What makes cider uniquely social and which of your ciders do you love to drink most with friends?
It’s maybe just me, but I feel like cider is a happy drink. I associated drinking cider with great conversations, real music, and good cheer. It’s less strong than wine (so you can drink more), but is still all about sharing, unlike beer.
Q: The tasting room feels made for groups-food, drink, music, and exceptional decor. Tell us more about the Wayside Cider space.
We wanted the space to almost function like a public square or piazza, a comfortable place to bring old friends or meet new. It’s really become a melting pot of cooland interesting people from many different walks of life. The lead designer on the project was Sean Scherer, who took inspiration from European cideries and the taverns that once existed here in the hills.
Q: We think you guys have brought a whole new edge to the Hudson Valley. Your killer line-up of music and events is unlike anything else offered Upstate. We’d love to know more about the curation process and what you intended when expanding a cidery into a hotspot destination.
A lot of times people contact us wanting to play or showcase their product. We really enjoy showcasing talent, whether that be music, great chefs or other ciders.
Q: We’d love to know how you ended up in the Hudson Valley. Are you an expat or local? Give us the 411 on your favorite spots in the valley.
I’m actually English but married to an American. We brought a getaway house in the Catskills as an escape from the city and fell in love with the area. The eclectic mix of people here makes it pretty unique and the landscape is stunning.
I think the Catskills is all about getting outside, campfires with friends, cooking good local food over an open flame, fly fishing, horse riding, and walking. The feeling of being completely off the grid yet only a couple of hours from the city is really special.
Q: Hospitality is booming Upstate. Have you found any creative partners? Any restaurants, hotels, or fellow cideries that you’re really digging?
The western Catskills is loaded with talented people. Designer Sean Scherer, who owns Kabinett and Kammer across the road designed our taproom. Steven Male, who is a neighbor (and ex art director of American Vogue and ID magazine) has help develop our visual language. We also regularly collaborate with local artisans, musicians and farmers to put on events.
Q: Lastly, you live in one of the most beautiful getaway destinations around. Where do you go when you want a weekend away?
I love going back to Europe for inspiration. I find what's happening in England with the rural gastropub scene very inspiring. Food is being sourced locally and the restaurants are really connected to their community - it’s something that we have really tried to emulate here at Wayside.
Make sure to follow @wayside_cider to stay up to date on the Upstate happenings.
Don't miss out on visting Wayside this Fall! plan your next weekend getaway with TROVVEN and you'll be sipping cider with Alex and his team in no time.