Cider Corner: How Manoff Has Adjusted to Warming Trends

Growing seasons and changing climate trends are not things that Manoff Cidery in New Hope, Pennsylvania just recently began considering.

Manoff Market Gardens has been around since the 1980s when Gary and Amy Manoff began farming right after they graduated college, and the cidery that bears their name started up in 2018.

The Manoffs’ orchard grows fruit that is sold at market as well as apples that go into the family’s dry, sparkling cider, and assistant cidermaker Chelsea Manoff said the family has made adjustments to what it grows in its orchard to work with the warmer weather.

“Due to warmer weather in general, even in winter, we have started planting more southern hearty apple trees rather than the mainstays of the north,” Manoff said. “Some of these are Arkansas Black, Virginia Hewes Crab, Winesap and Goldrush.”

Manoff said changing weather created many challenges for apple growers.

“Another component to climate change [besides warmer temperatures] is extreme weather patterns and later frost and hail dates, which affect all aspects of apple growth and tree health from bud in the spring to apples dropping off the trees,” Manoff said. “We combat this by having many varieties — 50 plus — to work with and choose from.”

The best apples are used for retail sales, so the cider making side of the business actually provides an avenue for utilizing some of the apples that don’t make it to the fruit stand.

Some like Goldrush, work well for both retail sales and cider making, and others, such as heirloom varietals Virginia Hewes Crab and COX Orange Pippin, were planted specifically for cider making.

“We are a small integrated orchard that we harvest exclusively for retail sales and cider,” she noted. “So whatever doesn’t make the cut for retail sales we press in house for hard cider blends or fresh non-alcoholic cider sales.”

As assistant cidermaker, Manoff’s duties include continually tasting what’s being harvested, pressing the apples individually and blending them after fermenting and aging them.

Staggered pressings take place throughout the winter to offset the year-round workload in the orchard, with the cooler storage being utilized to maintain apple quality.

“Our intent for our canned Comfort blend is to be apple forward, add roundness with barrel aging and spice from heirlooms,” she noted. “Each cider will depend on the apples but also how their flavor is nurtured throughout the process. Basically taste through the whole process to ensure you understand the quality and flavor profile of each apple at each stage.”

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