Article by: MY-LY NGUYEN of ithacajournal.com
It may be the business’s best kept secret, considering owner Mike Harris Jr. said he started quietly selling apple wine in the fall of 2007, using his orchard’s own apples.
“We’ve kind of kept it low key,” he said. “We like to start small and expand. As things go well, we expand some more. That’s kind of the business philosophy that seems to work for us.”
The apple wine takes eight to 15 months to make, Harris said. He starts when the fruit is in season, so he’s just beginning to make the apple wine that he’ll sell next year.
Lone Maple’s offerings now include six fruit wines and 10 grape wines (white, rosé and red), priced at $8.99 to $14.99, according to the business’s website, at lonemaplefarm.com, which consumers can use to buy the wine online.
Harris said he plans to sell three more types of fruit wines in the coming months.
“It started from just one little venture of apple wine to now all these different things,” he said. “Our intent is not to change from a fruit farm to just a winery.”
The wine business is a “natural extension” of Lone Maple’s other business efforts, including its hydroponic produce, farm market, “u-pick” crops, homemade ice cream and bakery that has more than 45 items baked fresh daily, Harris said.
He noted that the strawberry wine and some of the other wines are made using Lone Maple’s hydroponic produce, a technique that involves growing plants in a nutrient-rich solution without using soil.
Harris wouldn’t say how much wine Lone Maple produces a season.
“We’re still pretty small compared to a big Seneca-shore, Ithaca-type winery,” he said. “We’re very small and expanding.”