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Wyndridge Farm Cidery in York, PA | Fine Craft Living

Wyndridge Farm Cidery – York, PA’s First Hard Cider

York, PA. 

It isn’t just the Factory Tour Capital of the World. It isn’t just a place to drive through when heading to Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, or New York City.

Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic
Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic

York, PA, is rolling hills, rich fields, and quiet valleys. York is fresh produce and meats, seemingly never farther than 5 minutes from wherever you are. It is an unpretentious and honest place, approachable for everyone. York has landmarks like a wooden shoe house, peculiarities like the town of Dillsburg that drops a pickle on New Year’s Eve, and a thriving creatives and arts community in a downtown that has what was named one of America’s greatest main streets by Travel + Leisure.

York, PA, is craft-oriented living steeped in tradition. We are artists, musicians, raisers of livestock and growers of vegetables. We care for bees, know what hog maw is, and have roots that run deep. We build motorcycles, make potato chips, and bake pretzels. We are orchard owners, brewers, vintners, and now we are hard ciderists.

In an area where the greatest natural resource is the bountifully giving land beneath our feet, agritourism is an asset that many of us locals in York don’t stop to think about often. For us, having roadside vegetables for sale on the honor system, massive pumpkin patches with seasonal corn mazes, and seeing hand-drawn signs offering free-range chicken eggs are just a part of life. It is bucolic and it is pastoral and it is full of rich farming history. 

Wyndridge Farm Cidery is located on what is probably one of the most picturesque plots of land in York County. It is in the Dallastown area, near a road that gives me pause every time I drive over its crest and see the expanse of heaven below. When I say it gives me pause, I literally mean that if there are no cars behind me, I slow down and drink it in every single time. The road dips down steeply in a cleft before rising up again on the opposite side. Corn crops twist like thick golden snakes on the hill and a proud red barn stands out strongly against the earth tones all around. In all my travels, this is one of my favorite spots.

Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic
Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic

Wyndridge Farms is in the midst of this land, on nearly 80 acres of preserved farmland, owned by a family who is dedicated to agricultural pursuits and the growth of the agritourism sector in York. The cidery is filling a needed gap in the local agriculture sector by being the first commercial cidery in the county. Welcome, Wyndridge! 

Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic
Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic

The owners of Wyndridge Farm Cidery, Steve and Julie Groff, welcomed me into their charming stone home recently. Their property originally belonged to the late Dr. Philip Hoover, a local medical practitioner in Dallastown. He named it Wyndridge and when he sold it to the Groffs, it was his desire to see the land continue to be used for agricultural purposes and not just carved up for little boxes on the hillside. They both fell in love with the property and it has been an ideal home for them since Julie is local to Dallastown and Steve grew up on a farm in Lancaster County. In the years since it has been in their ownership, Steve and Julie have raised horses, cattle, and maintained the integrity of the land. 

An agricultural and rural life is in their blood.

Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic
Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic

Following quite a serious accident a couple years ago in which Steve had to be treated by his own staff at Orthopaedic Spine Specialists (OSS), they realized it was time to change direction. While he is still involved in the practice (one which I can recommend after having to take my daughter to their urgent care clinic a few weeks ago), he is less hands-on and has spent the past year and a half getting the cidery prepared for business.

Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic
Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic

The cidery is located in a barn near their home, with the conditioning and bottling area upstairs and the stainless fermentation tanks and glycol tank down below. There are two gorgeous, vintage Mueller stainless steel tanks from a Lancaster County farm being used as primary and secondary for the cider. It then gets pumped to a conditioning tank upstairs where a specific amount of carbonation is added and maintained before being bottled and sent out the door.

Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic
Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic
Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic
Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic

So what is the process of making cider, one may wonder? I did, so I asked. I had a basic idea from my experience with brewing beer at home, guest brewing at Iron Hill Brewery, and taking countless brewery tours, but wanted to find out the specifics. Steve was more than happy to share the process with me.

Wyndridge Farm is working with one of my favorite local orchards, Brown’s Orchards, and has a special blend of farm-fresh and unconcentrated apple juice that is used as the base for their hard cider. Different apples have specific characteristics that it adds to cider, like acidity, sweetness, and tannins. Wyndridge worked with a team of experts to come up with the best possible combination of locally available apples to make a quality end product.

Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic
Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic

In the first tank, or primary, the apple juice from Brown’s is mixed with yeast and the fermentation process begins. The cheerful yeast thrives, eats the sugars in the juice and produces alcohol. After an initial time spent in primary, it is racked to the next tank and in this secondary tank the yeast begins falling out and dropping to the bottom and many of the refined flavors start shining through.

Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic
Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic

In 2-3 weeks the entire process is complete and the now hard cider gets pumped upstairs to the bright beer tank for a controlled introduction of CO2. The temperature in this conditioning tank is maintained at 65 degrees by using glycol, which is a food-grade antifreeze. When conditioning is complete, it is bottled and ready for shipment.

Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic
Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic

In the state of Pennsylvania, hard cider must be under 5.5% ABV or else it has to be called wine. What that means for you is that this is going to be a highly drinkable hard cider that won’t pack too much of a punch. The first shipments will be available the end of November or the beginning of December 2013. Look for the name Wyndridge Crafty Cider, its label depicting a handsome fox wearing a suit and bow tie with an arrow-pierced apple delicately balanced on its head. You will be able to find it in various bars and restaurants in York County, as well as in distributors like Cape Horn Beverage (my local go-to). They’ll also have a stand at Central Market in downtown York, PA, where customers can taste the cider and buy some to take home.

Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic
Photo credit: Philip Given of The Susquehanna Photographic

Wyndridge Farm Cidery is only the first phase of a multi-phase project that Steve and Julie Groff have planned. Their enthusiasm is absolutely exciting and I cannot wait to see what else they have in store. They believe that York County has so much to offer visitors from near and far and they are passionate about putting York on the map as a destination for agritourism.  

Keep up to date with all things Wyndridge Farms by following them on Twitter, liking them on Facebook, or visiting their website.

Have you ever considered traveling to York, PA, for our agritourism gems? 

{I was not paid for this post or endorsed in any way. I enjoy supporting local business and was thrilled to have the opportunity to meet and interview the Groff family for this blog. Many thanks to Philip Given for the gorgeous photographs you see above. He is co-owner of The Susquehanna Photographic in York, PA. Need a photographer? Look them up.}