Family-owned Manoff Market Cidery, the maker of more than a dozen types of hard cider, has become a member of the Bucks County Wine Trail.
The cidery, which is owned by Gary and Amy Manoff and run with help from their daughter, Chelsea Manoff, and her husband, Maher Alazzeh, has been producing cider from fruit grown on their farm since 2018.
“It’s very much like wine,” Chelsea said of the cider, which tastes similar to sparkling white wine. Some of the blends are infused with other fruits grown on the farm, including blackberries and cherries, offering “fruity” and seasonal varieties for all palates, she said.
Apples are the main ingredient in the family’s non-alcoholic and hard cider recipes and they’ve got plenty to choose from. In all, the orchard boasts 50 different types of apples, including some of U.K. and France heritage, as well as Pink Lady, Stayman, Winesap, American heirloom and 18th century varieties like Harrison, the latter of which was enjoyed by Thomas Jefferson and other of our nation’s forefathers, according to Gary.
Gary and Amy purchased and began farming their Solebury-area land in 1984, right out of college. At the time, the farm had been out of production for five to seven years.
“The peach trees were dead,” Amy recalled. “The apple trees were standing, but in bad shape.”
The couple would spend the next seven to nine years clearing the farm, planting anew, and working odd jobs, including vegetable farming, to make ends meet while they worked tirelessly to bring the farm back to life.
“Every member of the family worked with us at some point,” Amy said. “We just started small. We did what we could.”
Chelsea was born in 1990 and soon became a perpetual extra set of hands.
“I had a very happy childhood growing up here. It never felt like work,” she said of her time helping on the farm. “I always got to eat.”
Besides apples, one of the things visitors to Manoff Market enjoy eating are the peaches. The Manoffs planted the first peach trees in 1985.
The family persisted through challenges presented by Hurricanes Gloria and Floyd, as well as the 17-year cicadas. Meanwhile, making cider was always “part of Gary’s plan,” Amy said.
“It fit really well into what we were doing,” she added.
The Manoffs produce 3,000 gallons of cider per year, with plans to expand.
“Part of the limitation is how much our trees yield,” Gary said. “We have trees in the ground that are going to double that production.”
It takes a bushel of apples – roughly 50 apples – to make three gallons of cider.
Since making cider is more akin to making wine, the Manoffs felt at home with the seven members of the Bucks County Wine Trail.
Visitors too, thought their cidery was like a wine tasting room.
“We were getting people coming here asking us why we weren’t in the trail,” Amy said.
Similar to the wine harvest season, which typically begins late summer or early fall, the Manoffs begin hand-picking fruit in late August and continuing through November. Once picked, fruit is washed and pressed. Juice is then fermented in totes and barrel aged. Some varieties are aged in oak and chestnut, while others are aged in acacia barrels from Italy. The cidermaking process takes almost a year.
More recently, the Cidery began canning some of their cider, including Comfort in a Can, which features a colorful picture of the farm from the viewpoint of Comfort Road. The WAW (Women and Weapons) Pink Lady canned cider is believed to be the first cider can featuring a NFT – or non-fungible token.
Looking ahead, the Manoffs are constructing a barn, which, once complete, will house the family’s cider production. Currently, the production area is situated adjacent to the cider tasting room. Relocating it to the barn would free up more space for folks sampling cider.
“We have a lot of ideas,” Amy said. “We’ll get there.”