From Our Farm Manager and Head Distiller, Andrew Richards:
I am very excited to be Shady Knoll’s Farm Manager and Head Distiller. My position ties together many of my personal and professional passions including agriculture, construction, entrepreneurialism, and the miracle known as alcoholic fermentation. I’ve been a “city-boy” most of my life but that hasn’t stopped me from exploring agriculture. In 2009 I completed my thesis titled “Urban Food Production: Possibilities for Rooftop Farming”, while obtaining my MS in Sustainable Design. During my undergraduate studies at Washington and Lee I spent most of my free time enjoying the bucolic beauty of the Shenandoah Valley and the Blue Ridge mountains. These educational experiences reinforced feelings I had developed during my childhood, a deep respect for the natural environment and a desire to responsibly develop our built environment. In 2013 I married the love of my life, Lindsey Kneipper, which proved to be a great decision for many reasons. In addition to finding a beautiful partner and loving mother, I became part of the Kneipper family and was introduced to their wonderful farm in Dutchess County, NY. Lindsey and I were able to escape NYC on many occasions and take the short drive north to Millbrook where we could enjoy the peaceful tranquility of “the Farm”. It wasn’t until a couple years after our wedding that I considered the possibility of working at Shady Knoll. It was also around this time that I began to learn everything I could about apple growing, fermentation and distillation. I read books, attended workshops, worked with Rick in his orchard, and started making a lot of homemade beer. In early 2015 Rick told me about his need for someone to start managing the orchard full-time and building the distillery at Shady Knoll. After getting the ok from Lindsey I told Rick that I wanted that position and in June 2015 I started working full-time at Shady Knoll. During the past year and a half we’ve nurtured our orchard as it has come into maturity, built our distillery and other structures, and have worked the farm back to its full potential. I have enjoyed all the challenges so far and I am very excited that our distillery is almost ready for full-time production. Look for our apple brandy and whiskey in the near future!