fueled by autumn

From coast to coast, autumn is fueling a trip to the cider mill.

From coast to coast, autumn is fueling a trip to the cider mill.

A great mind once said “if you wish to make apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

While you ponder that for a second, let’s also contemplate the wonder of autumn — the season of cider mill visits for warm apple cider and hot donuts as well as apple pie, caramel-dipped apples, fritters, pumpkin pie,

pumpkin cake, pumpkin butter and pumpkin-spiced everything else. It’s the season for tractor-led hay rides around the farm, corn mazes, pick-your-own apple orchards and pumpkin patches. It’s the season of vibrant red, orange and yellow leaves — nature’s own fireworks — lighting up our landscape for a few weeks.

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According to Cider Guide, America is home to 708 cider producers. Nevada and Wyoming are curiously the only ciderless states in the country. While the current hard cider trend surely contributes to that impressive number, pressing cider from apples is deeply seeded in American culture with almost 200 years of history.

From the plastic wheelbarrows in the pumpkin patch to the jugs of cider in the market to the gasoline in a tractor’s fuel tank, so many of the majestic moments that bring cider mills to life are materialized through a whole harvest of petroleum-based products.

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Since 1903, the Spicer family has farmed apples in Michigan — the third largest apple producing state in America. The Spicers started out planting orchards along the banks of the fertile Detroit River five generations ago; however, the family moved operations to the outskirts of Detroit when the Motor City was born and the river became central to the automotive industry. During the 1920s, the Spicer patriarch branched out and built gas stations — amassing significant wealth — but by the time the Great Depression hit, the family was surviving by selling the apples they stored in their cellars. After the Depression, with just $500 in the bank, the Spicers purchased a large swath of land 50 minutes northwest of the city. In 1967, Spicer Orchards started pressing apple cider. Today, they offer a genuine American cider mill experience — and then some.

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Spicer Orchards Farm Market and Cider Mill also operates as a year-round bakery, fudgery and winery.

It’s still a family operation, and not much has changed since they opened.

Just as it was in 1903, the Spicers — and everyone who pays them a visit — are absolutely fueled by autumn.