SOUTHINGTON — Rogers Orchards owners want to add hard cider, along with a hard cider tasting room, to the farm’s offerings.
Peter Rogers, the eighth generation of the family to farm the Long Bottom Road land, said the family has been making hard cider in small batches as a test. He hopes to start offering hard apple cider but is also considering other fruit such as pear.
“We’re looking to diversify our family farm and add this business,” Rogers said.
While the exact location of a cider tasting room is still to be determined, he’s looking to build it with views of the orchard and the rest of Southington.
“We also think it’s a good fit for us since we have such beautiful land across Southington and great views on the ridge,” Rogers said. “The views are breathtaking.”Looking for approvals
Rogers is looking for approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals to produce and sell alcohol.
Robert Ives, zoning board chairman, said he’d have to hear more about the plan but was initially supportive of the idea.
“It’s part of agri-tourism (agricultural tourism). It’s a good thing for Southington,” Ives said of Rogers Orchards’ success as a business. “It sounds promising, (allowing them to) utilize their farm a bit better and be good neighbors.”
Rogers said he’s also started applying with the state for the necessary permissions to make and sell alcohol.
In addition to cider mills across the state, several farms offer hard cider including Bishop’s Orchards in Guilford and Holmberg Orchards in Gales Ferry. Lyman Orchards in Middlefield released its 1741 hard apple cider in 2018. Southington a destination
Rogers has been working with Lou Perillo, the town’s economic development coordinator on the project. Perillo said a hard cider tasting room was a good addition to the fruit, fritters, donuts and local products already offered at the farm.
He’s been working to encourage businesses in town that attract customers from around the state and give visitors a reason to stay in Southington to eat, shop and recreate.
Perillo said the cider plan is a good fit both for the farm and with the existing breweries and distilleries in Southington. He was also glad to see the farm expanding as a business. The Rogers family has hundreds of acres in town. The business operates two sales rooms, at the main Long Bottom Road location and across town at its Sunnymount location on Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike.
“Anything we can do to maintain and grow their orchard business,” he said. “It keeps our town beautiful and bucolic.”Solar panel plan
Rogers is also looking for town approval for a solar panel array that would provide electricity to the farm’s operations. He’d initially put the project before the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission but moved it to the Zoning Board of Appeals after discussions with town planners.
As with residential solar panels, the farm will continue to use energy from the power grid when needed and give power to the grid at other times. Rogers is hoping to produce more energy than needed to offset the farm’s usage so new equipment can be added in the future.
Rogers said the panels would be behind and partially hidden by other farm buildings.