About Orchard Hill
An actor, musician, and lawyer walk into a bar…
During the early 2000s my wife, Laura, was on a national Broadway tour of Thoroughly Modern Millie and I was lucky to be working for a consulting firm that allowed me to work ‘from home’ wherever home might be. I packed up our apartment and spent the next year driving around the United States following the tour. Touring with a performing group was not completely foreign to me since I had been a freelance trumpet player until 2000, so when opportunities came my way I took a leap to try something new. During the tour and as typically occurs following most performances, all involved would meet up at a restaurant, bar, dive, hole-in-the-wall to gossip and kvetch about the performance, your day, your life, your co-workers, and anything else you could find to complain about.
It was at one of these after-show sessions that I met my future business partner Karl duHoffmann who was in the cast, and his wife Carolyn who like me was not in the performance but there for moral support. I realized very quickly that Karl’s personality and creativity were something to harness – he and I also clicked with similar senses of humor…very sideways. Karl and I also shared an interest in brewing, winemaking, distilling, and anything else food and drink related. We discussed staying in contact following the tour to see what we could do to move these interests forward.
Once we were all back in the NYC area, Karl and I ,through a set of circumstances that tend to occur when you’re not trying to make them happen, began making apple brandy at a distillery in the Hudson Valley around 2006. Karl had grown up in Port Jervis, NY, and when we were discussing where to find the fresh apple juice to make brandy he knew where the best produce was in NY State – Soons Orchards, farmed by the Soons family for about 110 years. Karl and his family have been going to Soons Orchards for many years for apples, sweet cider, and yes, cider donuts. It was at Soons where the third piece of our partnership, Jeff Soons, entered into the relationship…farmer, lawyer, architecture enthusiast, can read Latin, doesn’t like melted cheese, etc. He is among the most intriguing people I have ever met and difficult to describe in a couple sentences so you need to meet him for yourself. Suffice it to say he is at the heart of Orchard Hill and fits perfectly with Karl and me – definitely a three-legged stool.
The stars aligned and Orchard Hill Cider Mill was born in 2011. Fast forward to 2013 when we were licensed and opened our doors in September of that year. Since then and 25,000 gallons of some of the best hard cider in the Valley later, it’s been a journey of passion, stress, success, frustration, friendship, excellence, rinse and repeat…
Andrew Emig, Co-founder and partner at Orchard Hill Cider Mill