Since 1984, Jonamac Orchard has delighted visitors to DeKalb County with its incredible variety of apples, cider, baked goods, and other family-centered activities. Haunted corn mazes, pony rides, and traditional u-pick apples have been a staple of this third-generation farm. A fine offering of traditional activities may have remained the full scope of their activities had fate not intervened.
Necessity is the mother of invention. In 2013, the orchard produced a record bumper crop of apples. At the end of the season, a surplus of fresh fruit remained. Employing a good bit of farmer practicality, the McArtor family sought out a way to put this fruit to good use rather than see it go to waste. They had the cider presses and they had the produce—but what do to with it? Enter, apple wine.
In partnership with nearby Prairie State Winery, juice from the apples is transported to Genoa, IL where it is carefully fermented and then bottled. The result is a selection of ten different apple wines that are sold exclusively at the orchard. From the favorite Honeycrisp Apple, a sweet wine ideal for desert, to the oak-aged Orchard Reserve, a dry wine best served chilled, there is a wine for almost any taste. The Red Barn Blush is an apple-cranberry bottle that offers a blend of sweet and tart. Pomme Nouveau offers a delicate balance between sweet and dry with a hint of cinnamon. There’s even the award-winning Pumpkin Spiced Wine that’s best served after a brief warming in a crockpot for an extra special experience.
For those whose tastes vary from wine, there’s also Jonamac’s own line of four hard-ciders, produced onsite for the first year in 2018. Jonasmack Honeycrisp is a fan-favorite, while the Jonasmack Dry-Hopped Cider combines the juice of dessert apples with Citra Hops for a darker flavor that’s sure to appeal to fans of both ciders and craft beer. In addition, there’s the Hardcore Apple Ale – a true ale that’s been sweetened slightly with freshly-processed orchard grown cider.
The Cider House is the place to visit if you want to sample Jonamac’s spectrum of spirits. The environment is light and airy—high windows dominate this post and beam building that evokes the spirit of a traditional barn. The counter is faced with apple crates and the ceiling is decorated with apple boxes turned into decorator pieces. There’s a true aroma of cedar and apples that fills the nostrils from the moment a visitor steps inside the door. In the warmer months, there is ample outdoor seating where visitors can take their glasses, sit outside, and enjoy an afternoon in the country while sampling these unique flavors.
The Cider House is open August – November each Fall. This limited season makes Jonamac an essential stop for autumn travelers—not just for fresh fruit and baked goods, but for unique spirits that can only be found in this sprawling 105-acre farm. Ideal for the individual traveler or for group tours, the Cider House offers up country hospitality, bold flavors, and an ideal way to spend a few hours on a lazy autumn weekend.