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WNC Business

Crafting hard cider adds to local apple orchard’s family experiences

May 25, 2024 10:03AM ● By Randee Brown

On a piece of land that has been used as a farm in Henderson County since at least 1813, Jeter Mountain Farm was established in 2005, with an apple orchard planted in 2014.

The Hunsader family has been farming for more than five generations, and understanding he was ready for more rewarding work, Mike Hunsader knew he wanted his new apple orchard to become a place to share his passion with everyone in the community as they come and enjoy the literal fruits of his family’s labor.

With the goal of offering more than simply a U-Pick orchard, the Hunsader family knew they wanted to produce a variety of products to create a full experience for their guests, and they wanted to start by offering hard and fresh cider.

“We knew we wanted to offer that and we knew we wanted to nail it,” said Jocelyn Hunsader, Mike’s daughter-in-law. “We are careful with how it’s made through the entire process. The first step in making good hard cider is to make good fresh cider, so it’s all freshly grown, pressed, and processed on site.”

Holding true to their standard of producing cider simply and honestly, their cider is made from only pure products, never adding any sugar or flavor concentrates. The fermented cider is back-sweetened with more fresh cider, and the fresh cider is pasteurized with a UV process rather than heated so the flavor is never compromised. 

The first year, Jeter Mountain Farms brewed The Original — a standard hard cider made from a blend of apple varieties. Over the years, they’ve added The Granny which is made from only Granny Smith apples, The Pink Lady, Grape, and Blackberry, all using only fruit grown on their own farm.

“We’ve had fun adding more flavors over the years,” Hunsader said. “We also do specialty small batches available only on tap like a hopped hard cider and a whiskey barrel-aged cider. This coming season, there will be a few new things coming too.”

Intentionally keeping their craft small, all of the work, including the canning, is done in-house. Their cans are only available at the farm, and Hunsader said this is to further their goal of encouraging enjoyment of the farm experience. There is something special about things you  have to wait for, and they plan to continue focusing their energy on keeping up with the demand on the farm itself.

“While we try to increase our capacity a bit more each year, the hard cider is just part of the experience we offer at the farm,” Hunsader said. “By offering fresh food, live music, play spaces, and a shop in addition to the orchard itself, we’re creating an atmosphere on the farm that the whole family can enjoy. We want the hard cider to stay in that space.”

The work on the following year’s hard cider begins days after the U-Pick season ends. The family picks any leftover apples and immediately presses them all, getting the fermentation process started right away. They switch the use of their large cooler to become a fermenter, and work on the product all year long in order to have enough for the following season.

As the farm grows in popularity, the Hunsader family plants more apple trees every year. Each tree takes about five years before it begins producing well, and having enough to keep up with the demand is challenging, even with their current 40 acres of trees. 

In addition to the hard cider, the family works together to create the other offerings available on their farm. They smoke their own pork barbeque and make their own sauces for their food truck, produce their own honey, and built their own picnic tables. Hunsader’s mother-in-law even handmade all of the signs found on the property and also creates jewelry and printed water bottles and tote bags available for purchase in their market store. 

Visitors will see family members working the farm and offering its products every season. Hunsader said anyone who picks an apple will meet her father-in-law whether they know it or not, and while their goal is to grow, their growth remains centered on creating a better experience for those visiting rather than becoming bigger or more far-reaching.

“We always strive for excellence, and are lucky that we are a big family so that we can divide and conquer,” Hunsader said. “We want to accommodate the best experiences with charm and use the property more wisely to create the best possible spaces for people to come and enjoy. It’s a true family affair, and we are proud of all that we are able to offer as a reflection of our farm.”

Jeter Mountain Farm is a U-Pick orchard and events venue in Henderson County. Learn more at