Julie and Steve Groff stand by cider vats Monday in the cidery they are opening at their York Township farm. They are naming the brand Wyndridge Crafty
Julie and Steve Groff stand by cider vats Monday in the cidery they are opening at their York Township farm. They are naming the brand Wyndridge Crafty Cider after the name of their farm. (Bill Kalina photo)

It was the champagne of the 17th century.

A drink that was a mainstay of the colonists has regained popularity during the last few years, offering a different option for consumers who want an artisan touch with their libations.

It's a trend that hasn't gone unnoticed by York Township farmers Steve and Julie Groff.

The couple has opened Wyndridge Farm, York County's first and only hard cidery, at 885 S. Pleasant Ave. in Dallastown.

Just as more brewers of barley have been adding hard ciders to their lineup of beers, the local crop farmers saw an opportunity in the burgeoning demand.

"Hard cider is one of the fastest-growing segments in the alcohol market," Steve Groff said.

The cider market grew 144 percent in 2012, according to research firm Euromonitor International.

Steve Groff attributed the stronger sales to hard cider's "delicious taste," gluten-free composition and appeal to women.

"It's a nice alternative for those who don't like beer or wine," he said.

His wife agreed.

"I like beer, but hard cider is light and crisp and not as heavy or filling as beer," Julie Groff said.

Depending on the variety and how much sugar is used, hard cider contains 100 to 150 calories per 12-ounce bottle.

The calories in beer vary from 95 per bottle in a light beer to 180 for a heavier lager.

Sweeter and lighter: On average, cider is sweeter and lighter than most beers, which has likely attracted more women, according to Euromonitor. About 60 percent of cider drinkers are women, the research firm reported.

Wyndridge Farm owners hope to appeal to that market when their cider is sold in local restaurants later this month, including at The Paddock on Market, 3406 E. Market St. in Springettsbury Township.

The cider will also be sold at a stand in Central Market in December and will eventually be sold in local beer distributors, Steve Groff said.

Apples: Getting the product to market started with "the great apples in this area," he said.

The cidery gets its main product -- apples pressed into juice -- from Brown's Orchards & Farm Market at 8892 Susquehanna Trail South in Loganville.

"It was absolutely important to us to stay local," Steve Groff said.

Once the apples are pressed into juice, the juice is poured into large tanks, where yeast is added. The juice ferments for two to four weeks as it develops alcohol. Then it is balanced for taste, carbonated and packaged in kegs and bottles.

"We were looking for an agritourism project, and this is the start of that," he said.

-- Candy Woodall can also be reached at cwoodall@yorkdispatch.com.