Sweet success

Take a bite out of fall at Mcclure’s

Posted on Sep 21 2018 in Miami-Cass REMC

McClure’s Orchard/Winery is a family-owned business on U.S. 31 just north of Peru. Jerry and Paige McClure purchased the apple orchard in October 1998 and are celebrating their 20th year in business.

Most of the trees have been replaced since the orchard was founded by Arthur Tate over 100 years ago. When the McClures purchased the orchard and buildings, it had set empty for four years. They were told it would be a few years before they saw their first apple.

All of the buildings were in disrepair, and it wasn’t until Labor Day of 1999 that the orchard could be opened for business. With a lot of hard work and against all odds, the orchard produced 10,000 bushels of apples that first year.

The barn was opened first where they had a gift shop and sold apples and apple dumplings. The couple then opened a restaurant in November of that year. They now have 125 different varieties of apples and pick thousands of bushels each year.

The McClures’ daughter, Megan, and son, Jason, have joined the family business. It employs 10 full-time employees throughout the year as well as part-time and seasonal help.

In addition to the having the restaurant and gift shop, McClure’s features a petting zoo and will host around 3,000 kids for field trips this fall, some students coming from as far as an hour away. Paige said that some of the kids who attended field trips when they were younger are now bringing their own kids.

In 2009, Jason and his wife, Alison, expanded the business to include a winery. Currently, McClure’s is the only farm-to-bottle producer of hard cider in Indiana. Traditionally apples were grown for wine and hard cider. It wasn’t until prohibition that there was a shift away from that model. In addition to wine from apples, the business also has wine from grapes, honey, blackberries and raspberries — all grown on the orchard. Wine tasting is available Tuesday through Sunday at the restaurant.

As you can imagine, fall is the busiest time of the year for the orchard. It is open seven days a week in October. If you bring the family on the weekend, you can enjoy horseback rides and trolley rides to the pumpkin patch. They will also have rides during the weeks of fall break. While there, you will want to check out some of its apple hidden gems. The McClures recommend their sweet 16, candy crisp, arlet, pink lady and Purdue’s gold rush varieties.

For more information about McClure’s Orchard/Winery, the selection of apples and wines they have, or upcoming events, visit www.mccluresorchard.com.