Wheel-View Opens Cider Tasting Room

The Recorder, August 31, 2016, by Diane Broncaccio

In less than a year after bottling its first batch of Standing Bull Cider, Wheel-View Farm is opening the doors to its new “Tasting Room,” on a hilltop in the Patten Hill section of Shelburne Center.

Starting Saturday, the Wheel-View Farm Cidery will be open to the public on weekends and holidays from 1 to 6 p.m., at 212 Reynolds Road.

This is a place where visitors will be able to sample sweet, semi-sweet and dry ciders and non-alcoholic ciders from apples grown in a nearby orchard. The first apples of the season are now being pressed and some are in the first stages of fermentation in an adjoining room.

Besides ciders, the Wheel-View Farm tasting room will also sell Wheel-View’s maple syrup, maple cream and maple cotton candy made on the premises. To go with the glasses and “flights” of cider, they will be selling cheeses from Upinngil Farm in Gill; and fudge (including maple fudge) from Mo’s Fudge Factor in Shelburne Falls. Mo’s Fudge Factor will also be making “belted galloway cookies,” also known as whoopie pies or black-and-whites, in honor of the belted galloway cattle that graze on Wheel-View pastures.

Besides the spectacular hilltop views, this tasting room offers a glimpse into the history of both the Wheel-View Farm and its families. The building for the cidery operation and tasting room was originally built in 1955 as a pig house and was used as a maple drum storage area before its conversion into a cidery/tasting room. With a grant from the state Agricultural Energy Grant Program, the building has been insulated and now has double-paned windows.

The farmhouse itself was built in 1842, and the tasting room is a mini-museum of objects and tools that have been in the Wheeler and Reynolds families for centuries.

Wheeler’s family, the Reynolds, have been in Shelburne since 1896, when they bought this farm, says Wheeler. But her husband John’s family, the Wheelers, have been in the area since the 1670s. Carolyn and John Wheeler began running their farm here in 1979.

The print of an oil painting, “Capt. Wheeler’s Surprise, Aug. 2, 1675,” hangs on a wall and shows a group of Nipmuck Indians waiting to ambush a group of settlers on horseback. According to Wheeler, the Concord settlers had made a treaty with Nipmuck tribal elders in 1675, but younger members didn’t agree with the treaty and ambushed the men, killing many of them. The wounded Capt. Thomas Wheeler lived long enough to write his account of the attack, which is depicted by artist Russell Buzzell of North Brookfield.

A player piano with music rolls and a working hand-cranked Victrola with glass records are part of the decor, along with old apple-corers, an array of saws, farming tools and an ancient harness cabinet, into which the births and other milestones of favorite horses were scrawled in the 1800s.

In the tasting room, people can buy ciders by the ounce, by the glass or by the bottle. “Flights” provided 4-ounce servings of all three ciders (sweet, semi-sweet and dry).

“We have 10 different varieties (of apples), so as they ripen, we’ll have different kinds,” said Wheeler. One fermentation tank can make up to 400 gallons in one batch, while the other tank holds 230 gallons.

Wheeler’s non-alcoholic cider is raw, not pasteurized, and unsweetened. Those who want to make their own hard cider can buy the fresh cider and a cider-making kit.

Other things for sale will include apples, crackers to go with the cheeses, meat jerky, and Wheel-View Farm’s frozen grass-fed beef.

In addition to weekends, the cidery will be open to visitors on Labor Day and Columbus Day, from 1 to 6 p.m. The phone number is 413-625-2900.