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Wyndridge Farm Gets Crafty With Hard Cider

Posted by on in December 2014 Editions
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Hard cider has emerged as one of the fastest-growing segments in the alcoholic beverage industry, and among the fastest-growing brands in that segment are Pennsylvania-based Wyndridge Farm's Crafty Ciders. Now available in Maryland, the two Crafty Ciders -- original apple and cranberry flavored -- are naturally gluten free with a refreshing taste.

Crafty Ciders separate themselves from other hard ciders by making ample use of the local bounty of quality apples found in the Keystone State's central region. Wyndridge Farm President Steve Groff says he and his full-time cider master, Scott Topel, keep their ingredients simple. Chiefly, Wyndridge Farm prides itself on not adding any excessive amounts of extra sweeteners.  Groff stated during a recent interview with the Beverage Journal, "Many of the commercial hard ciders start with either apple juice concentrate rather than full juice or their alcohol is made with sugar. We simply use fresh apple juice.  We source local apples just a few miles down the road.  We carbonate and package on the farm.  So, the whole process takes place right here." 

The result is a Champagne-style apple cider that is fresh, simple, and quite tasty.  The products stand out on shelves, though, due to their fun and creative bottling. The company's original Crafty Cider features a well-dressed fox balancing an arrow-skewered apple on the top of his head.  Crafty Cranberry, meanwhile, boasts a dapper bird in a suit with a beak full of cranberry.

"We are a farm-based company," Groff remarked.  "So, we wanted to have some fun with the creatures that visit the farm. We tried to do this whole play on sophisticated animals. The fox is in a tuxedo and has become our hospitality brand. The bird is a cedar waxwing, which has a well-known affection for cranberries. Cranberry is our base cider with a splash of cranberry juice, and that gives it a nice tartness and a little bit of color."

One of the challenges facing Crafty Ciders has been overcoming the drink's seasonal stigma. Traditionally, apple cider has been a fall beverage during harvest. Among the earliest signs of autumn in many parts is going to the grocery store and seeing that first display of gallon and half-gallon jugs of apple cider near the milk and orange juice sections. "That's basic cider," Groff, who co-owns Wyndridge with his wife Julie, stated. "Hard cider is a more sophisticated, Champagne-style beverage. Ours is very light and crisp and has a year-round demand and appeal."

The Groffs are hoping their Crafty Ciders will continue to have year-round demand and appeal in Maryland. First and foremost, they enjoy welcoming visitors from the Old Line State to their 77-acre farm in southern York County, Pa.  Groff noted, "We're 15 minutes above the Maryland line and 40 minutes from Hunt Valley. We are a family-owned business that got started in hard cider production about a year ago with a winery license. We grew that into an entire destination with a 120-year-old, meticulously renovated barn that seats 280 people; an expo kitchen; and a craft brewery. We have special events booked for two years already. We serve lunch and dinner and have an executive chef hired from the Oregon Grill named Matthew Siegmund, who is phenomenal."

Wyndridge Farm's Crafty Ciders are available in Maryland ... the Groffs currently self-distribute their products in Maryland.  Currently Cranbrook Liquors and Shawan Liquors in Cockeysville, The Liquor Stop in Bel Air, and The Wine Market and Wine Works in Baltimore City are purchasing the bottled cider directly from Wyndridge. Looking for the product on tap?  Join the likes of Alexander's Tavern in Fells Point and Birrotecca in Hampden.

Looking ahead, the Groffs are hoping to grow their farm-brewed craft beers, including their first two offerings 10 Point Ale and Laughing Crow IPA. "We have them on draft at our place now," Groff said in late October, "and we'll be packaging them in about two weeks. 

For more information call 717 244-9900 or go to www.wyndridge.com.

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Teddy is a graduate of UMBC. In additional to his Beverage Journal writing duties, he is an entertainment reviewer.