Golden Harvest farms
From land that has been cultivating apples since the late 1800s, Golden Harvest Farms was established on a 45 acre plot by Dan and Madeline Zinke in 1957. Four generations later, the farm has expanded to 250 acres and produces over a dozen apple varieties. The year-round Golden Harvest road stand is a Columbia County fixture, famous for its delicious apple cider donuts.
Nestled between the orchards and the road stand resides Harvest Spirits Distillery, New York State’s 1st Farm Distillery. The project began in 2005 with research and development, and Harvest Spirits was born. In 2007, we acquired a 400 liter copper still from Germany, and obtained our Federal license. The following year we gained our State license, and production began. Core Vodka, our first product, was released in May 2008, with Cornelius Applejack quick on its heels, taking the shelves in November 2009. Both spirits originate from apples grown at Golden Harvest, and are distilled and bottled on site.
As the years passed, we expanded our repertoire to include a variety of innovative products, using fresh fruit from our farm and neighboring growers to flavor each batch. Only the Pear Brandy and John Henry Malt Whiskey are not made with our own Golden Harvest apples. We now offer a Distiller’s Reserve of our Applejack brandy, aged 10+ years in oak barrels. And the rest… is history!
Tree to bottle spirits
Harvest Spirits Farm Distillery products are crafted in the “tree to bottle” method, with the apples grown steps from the distillery then pressed, fermented, distilled and bottled all on-site. Working closely with several local farms, Harvest Spirits is a true Farm Distillery, promoting strong ties among the local farmers and sharing information readily, from farm to bottle.
Having helped to forge the way in New York craft distilling, Harvest Spirits received New York State’s first Farm Distillery license in 2007 and shortly after produced New York’s first Applejack since the prohibition era. Their award-winning spirits truly express the terroir of the Hudson River Valley and pay tribute to the abundant variety of the local fruit.
Step into the distillery and you will get a sense of the homegrown and eclectic mix that has created this iconic place and space, where history, innovation, creativity and the pioneering spirit have built incredible experiences and truly exceptional products. Sample their award-winning spirits, enjoy a cocktail or a draft of local hard cider or beer out on their deck under the wisteria blooms. Either way, a visit to this unique place where it all began should be top on your list.
Harvest Spirits never compromises on quality. Their products are homegrown and meticulously hand-crafted on the farm. Never any neutral grain spirits. No artificial ingredients, colors or sugars added. 100% gluten-free, excepting the whiskey of course. 100% family owned and operated and independently distributed – Harvest Spirits Farm Distillery is open for tours, tastings and sales every day, noon to 5pm.
Our apples are pressed all year round on an antique rack-and-cloth cider press. The apples are washed and inspected before being crushed and pressed. The sweet cider is thick and pulpy and is made from a blend of several varieties of apples.
stainless steel fermentation
The sweet cider is pumped into large stainless steel tanks where yeast is added. The yeast promotes fermentation and the sweet cider turns into hard cider, about 6% alcohol.
Hard Cider is pumped into our 150 gallon Christian CARL copper pot still for a primary distillation. Here the alcohol is slowly cooked out of the hard cider. The alcohol is condensed back into a liquid and collected in tanks. The alcohol is pumped back into the kettle for a second distillation. During the second distillation, the batch is separated into fractions, known as the heads, hearts, and tails. Only the hearts are used for the final product.
aging and blending
Some of our products are aged, such as applejack, whiskey and some brandy. Others are not, like vodka. We age our products in large oak barrels that were previously used to age bourbon. Aging adds flavors of toasted oak, vanilla and caramel. It also allows the spirits to rest, coalescing and condensing the spirit.