Ben Wenk has logged a lot of miles in the four years since he launched Ploughman Cider with his dad, Dave, and his uncle John. He drives to Philly from Three Springs Fruit Farm, the Wenks' seventh-generation family business in Adams County, about three times a week. And lately, he’s been making the rounds in Pittsburgh, too.
“It’s a lot. A lot of hours, a lot of windshield time, a lot of podcasts,” Wenk said.
All of those trips — visits to farmers markets, bars and restaurants, beer shops, and distributors — have been in the service of getting the farm’s sophisticated ciders to customers. And chefs and beverage directors have eagerly embraced the sometimes bone-dry or citrus-bright or floral flavors of Ploughman’s portfolio, which includes ciders made with crab apples, quince, chokeberries, peaches, cucumbers, and even Malaysian spices.
But talk to Wenk long enough, and you’ll discover he’s promoting more than cider.
“I really feel like creating experiences around agriculture, and having a hospitality element to our business is quite honestly going to be one of the ways that we can afford to keep farming,” he said.
Raising the profile of Ploughman also brings attention to Adams County, the fifth-largest apple-producing county in the U.S., and home to farms raising everything from flowers to pastured hogs and poultry to peaches. Wenk wants to keep it that way.
“It’s my goal, as our business continues to grow, to incorporate more experiences here in our county and in the greater South Mountain region to tell that story and get people out where there’s lush, open green spaces and away from the confinement and rat race that urban life can so often be for the folks I talk to.”
To that end, Ploughman has added more farmers markets to its regular rotation. It’s still welcoming guests at its year-old taproom in Gettysburg, albeit in smaller groups. And it recently launched a cider club, which ships cider to members every three months in increments of a bushel or a peck.
The hope is to grow enough to allow Wenk to get off the road and back on the farm.
Where and how to buy: Find Ploughman Cider in Pennsylvania bars, restaurants, bottle shops, and beer distributors, including the Ambler Beer Exchange, the Beer Yard in Wayne, Bella Vista Beverage, Bryn Mawr Beverage, and Di Bruno Bros. Or shop for it at the farmers markets in Head House Square and Clark Park, as well as Gettysburg and Carlisle.