The Country Mill of Charlotte, MI, a MIFMA member since 2011, began as a small “you-pick” orchard in 1871. The Tennes family purchased the business and property in 1971 and to date the business has grown in size and variety to encompass blueberries, peaches, sweet corn, pumpkins, apples, fresh pressed apple cider and a variety of apple wines.
In addition to their location in Charlotte, The Country Mill is the proprietor of booths at several local farmers markets including MIFMA member, Meridian Township Farmers Market and the Farmers Market at the Capitol.
In light of the recent passing of Public Act 100, which allows the Michigan Liquor Control Commission to issue a special permit for small winemakers to offer samples and sell wine at Michigan farmers markets, The Country Mill has hopes of selling apple wine at local farmers markets in the near future.
The Country Mill produces several varieties of apple wines. The wines begin as apple cider that is then fermented for 6 to 9 months. The wine is then sampled and either left as sweet hard cider, dry apple wine, or are mixed with maple syrup, blueberry or cherry juice to make a wine that compliments the natural apple flavor. For owner Steve Tennes, the connection between local wineries and farmers markets is easy to draw, “Local wine sales would benefit consumers by allowing them to have a 100% local meal. It completes the entire experience while highlighting one of Michigan’s growing industries.”
The Country Mill has demonstrated not only a commitment to their customers and products, but a commitment to the environment. The orchard contains 12 acres of certified organic apple trees, bat houses (for pest management), and beehives. In addition, The Country Mill earned MAEAP verification in 2009.
When asked why The Country Mill joined MIFMA Steve replied “We appreciate the work that MIFMA has done in order to initiate and coordinate the Farmers Market at the Capitol. This is a good market not only for increased sales, but also for keeping local farmers in front of our state’s administration and leadership. We appreciate that you give MIFMA members a discount for being part of this market as well.”
Look forward to visiting The Country Mill and other MIFMA member orchards at farmers markets this season.
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