It has been a while since we did a SaraBozich.com Field Trip, and when Ben Wenk reached out to invite us to Three Springs Fruit Farm for a day of breathtaking views, Ploughman Cider, and history, we jumped at the chance.
With baby Bo in tow, we set off for Adams County, weaving through hills and valleys admiring the peak of apple blossom season.
Three Springs Fruit Farm covers more than 300 acres in Aspers. It’s a seventh generation farm in operation since 1901.
Once we arrived, both Ben and Dave Wenk, or “Ben’s Dad,” led us around the property, from where they process their produce to the (fingers crossed) future site of Three Springs’ newest venture, Ploughman Cider.
You may be familiar with Ploughman Cider if you frequent local farmers markets. For Harrisburg locals, there’s a chance you’ve seen or sampled their cider in Broad Street Market’s courtyard over the summer.
Ploughman Cider uses apples grown right on the estate that are hand-selected from their six-acre cider orchard.
They grow and press American varieties like Spitzenberg, Golden Russet, and Stayman along others they use on occasion like Dabinett, Stoke Red, and Kingston Black.
In addition to cider, Ploughman also makes perries and fruit wines from pears, peaches, chokeberries, and grapes.
Even processing is local. When the apples are ready, they take 30,000 pounds of fresh apples just up the road to Keim’s Cider Mill, where they are pressed into 3,000 pounds of juice in just six hours.
Once pressed, the juice makes it way back to the farm where it is blended, fermented, and finally bottled.
Ben and Dave aren’t the only ones with their hands on Ploughman either. The crew includes John, Ben’s uncle, and Edwin Winzeler, Ploughman’s head cider maker.
Ploughman Cider Offerings + Future
Ploughman’s first cider was Stark American Strong Cider. It clocks in at 8.5% ABV and is made with Stayman and Spitzenberg apples for a dry, crisp cider.
A few other Ploughman ciders include:
- Lupulin Lummox – An American Cider hopped with Citra hops
- Pinot N’Arlet – A wild fermented cider aged on Pinot Noir grapes
- Rosedale – An American dry cider with Crabapples
We also sampled Ploughman’s Kenspeckle during our lunch at Fidler & Co. (but more on that in a bit).
Kenspeckle gets its beautiful, deep rosé hue from chokeberries, which are grown on the farm, along with Stayman, Rone, and Jona Gold apples. It’s dry, with a hint of bitterness, with aromas of strawberries and cherries.
While Ploughman Cider is currently only available at local markets, plans are in place for a full tasting room on the Three Springs’ land.
The future location is beautiful. It overlooks one of their oldest orchards, and if you look far enough into the distance, you can see clear to Maryland.
Once it opens, Ploughman Cider will be a destination for cider drinkers and travel junkies alike.
History you can taste
While Three Springs Fruit Farm has been in operation for over 100 years, the Wenks have been farming this land for close to double that time.
John Wenk, the first Wenk to the area, settled on a small plot of land which now bears his name in Wenksville. He married and started farming the land he acquired through that marriage.
The Wenks have not always farmed the same plot for the close to 200 years, but they have stayed relatively close to the original site. In fact, at one location on the farm, you can actually see the small town of Wenksville peek through the orchards on their current land.
The farm’s initial iteration housed produce and livestock, but in 1964, the farm went through an overhaul devoting the majority of the acreage to apples.
Three Spings continued to grow, acquiring 86 acres leased by Knouse Foods Cooperative, which produces both Lucky Leaf and Musselman’s brands.
Once Ben returned from finishing his degree at Penn State in 2007, he wanted to pursue retail marketing for Three Springs. They started out in Headhouse Farmers Market in Philadelphia in the first year, and now you can find them at several markets in both Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Currently, Three Springs is 335 acres. Apples occupy the majority of the land, but they grow peaches, cherries, pears, herbs, and a myriad of vegetables.
» Check out everywhere you can find Three Springs Fruit Farm and Ploughman Cider.
Fidler & Co.
We had one final stop before returning north — lunch at local eatery, Fidler & Co. We were treated to a catered menu of beet salad, a fried oyster taco/Po Boy, and several pizzas, which we enjoyed alongside the aforementioned Ploughman Cider.
Fidler & Co. is run by Chef Josh Fidler, and frankly, it deserves its own write-up. This was my second visit here — though it had been a while. Should you find yourself in the area, visiting orchards or wine tasting (or maybe beer tasting — stay tuned for our return trip to Adams County), Fidler & Co. is a must-visit. Do check their hours, as they are closed Mondays and Tuesdays.