Cold Hollow Cider Mill is a long-established Vermont family business that is the largest maker of fresh cider in the Northeast, producing more than a million gallons a year. Its cider, pressed mostly from locally grown McIntosh apples, is also considered to be amongst the best in the nation for its sweet and tart taste. The cider mill is a popular tourist destination with more than 350,000 visitors a year. You can watch cider production using age-old methods, sample fresh cider and other products made with it, and browse through the mill’s extensive offerings of specialty food products, novelties and gift items.
A visit to Cold Hollow Cider Mill is to take a step back in time, to the days of labor- intensive farming practices. Those same methods are still in use today, making a visit there a memorable experience. Although cider production continues throughout the year, fall is the big season when most of the apples are picked and at their best, ready for immediate pressing and processing. The cider mill is an especially popular destination for tour groups that can see and sample a slice of Vermont farm life and learn about the cider-making process firsthand.
The quaint early-1800s classic Vermont farmhouse attached to a barn (that was once a dairy farm) is the idyllic setting for Cold Hollow Cider Mill. It has been adapted and added to over time to make it one of the largest farm operations in the state. The history of Cold Hollow Cider Mill dates back to 1974. It was started by former owners Eric and Francine Chittenden – descendants of Vermont’s first governor Thomas Chittenden – who lived on another dairy farm in Bakersfield, Vermont. The farm was located near the base of the Cold Hollow Mountains, from which the current mill takes its name. They gave up dairy farming after a difficult first year, and instead began pressing apple cider for local friends with a press they had procured. Soon the business began to grow. With a vision of greater things, the Chittenden’s decided they wanted to become a major tourist attraction and produce cider in large quantities to sell wholesale to supermarkets. But they knew they could not achieve their dream in their remote location in Bakersfield. So they looked for a new spot. After a statewide search and studying traffic density maps, they settled on the current location on Route 100 between Waterbury and Stowe because it was the busiest tourist traffic route in the state. In 1976, they purchased the old Gibbs dairy farm in Waterbury Center, and operated the business until they sold it in 2000. The Chittenden’s continue to live just 2,000 feet away in a house they built on their lot on the shores of Waterbury Reservoir.
The new owners Paul and Gayle Brown who took over and have continued to expand the business. They were previously involved in the ski industry in Vermont, and were looking for a business to buy. The timing was perfect for both former and present owners, and allowed the cider mill operation to continue unchecked. Today, the cider mill is a thriving business. It has expanded in size well beyond its original farmhouse and barn with several additions that include a Jelly Room – much like a maple sugar house – two large cold storage rooms (one for apples, the other for finished product), two press rooms, and a large bottling facility. The main pressroom used for viewing the pressing of cider is the big attraction where a 1920’s hydraulic press still uses the traditional “rack and cloth” method of pressing cider. Each year, more than 7 million apples are used in the process.