Locate Finger Lakes Business Journal

Michigan hard cider producer expanding in Wayne County

“Congratulations to Brian Pincelli, LOCATE Finger Lakes Board Member and Executive Director of Wayne County Economic Development, on this exciting announcement.”
Mike Nozzolio, Chairman, LOCATE Finger Lakes.

The Midwest’s largest craft cidery is coming to Wayne County.

Empire State Development announced Monday that Michigan-based Blake Farms is expanding operations into Wolcott, and with it, creating 69 jobs. The facility will produce hard cider and non-alcoholic beverages at the Wayne County site, according to a story in Brewbound, a beverage industry news site.

Blake cited increasing demand for its ciders as the reason for the move into Wayne County. The company also cited the county’s status as the largest apple grower in the state as another reason for choosing it over other locations under consideration.

Blake Hard Cider

“The future is bright for cider,” Blake told Brewbound. “You’ll be seeing Boston Beer and Angry Orchard make big investments and grabbing market shares. I look forward to that, because it’ll grow the segment and Blake’s will distance itself from the pack to become the true cider-maker and the cider of choice for the consumer. Our goal is to deliver products everywhere.”

Blake’s new operation is already under construction on Lummisville Road, ESD noted.

Andrew Blake

Andrew Blake

ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight expressed thanks to Blake Farms for selecting Wayne County for its $9 million project.

“Cheers to Blake Farms for choosing to expand its hard cider production in the Finger Lakes — New York’s other ‘Big Apple,’ ” she said. “Construction of the state-of-the-art facility in the Empire State’s highest apple-producing county will add great-paying local jobs, boost the regional economy and reinforce the state’s craft beverage and agribusiness industry leadership.”

ESD said Blake Farms’ cider operation has experienced rapid growth, producing over 875,000 cases of cider or 2 million gallons in the last year alone, making it one of the largest hard cider producers in the nation.

The family run apple farm began producing hard cider in 2013, and now distributes its products to 21 states.

Blake Farms co-owner and President Andrew Blake said the Wayne County location fits the company’s business model.

“As Blake’s continues its pursuit of being the stewards of all things apples, we felt compelled to invest in regions with robust apple growing and processing traditions,” he said. “We intend to be a sustainable grower, processor and fermenter of all things apples and we couldn’t be more excited about engaging with the rich apple growing tradition found in upstate New York. We are excited at the opportunity to become a member of the Finger Lakes community and we feel this is the first step of our commitment to sustainable agriculture in the state and region.”

In exchange for the company’s job-creation commitments, ESD said it is providing up to $600,000 in tax credits.

Wayne County and Cornell AgriTech are also assisting Blake Farms with the project. Blake expects to be operational at the Wolcott site later this year.

Cathy Young, executive director of the New York State Center of Excellence for Food and Agriculture in Geneva, said the center “will continue to provide business and technical expertise as they build out their Wayne County plant and begin production. The CoE’s colleagues at the Cornell Craft Beverage Institute also have worked with Blake Farms, and there are many synergistic opportunities for product testing, research and development in the future.”

Wayne County Industrial Development Agency CEO and Executive Director Brian Pincelli also praised the decision by Blake Farms to expand in Wayne.

“Apples are big business in Wayne County, and we are very proud of our ag economy and all it has to offer,” he said. “The addition of Blake Farms as a hard cider producer and the new jobs they are bringing is exciting, and we look forward to assisting them now and in the future.”

– This article originally appeared in the Finger Lakes Times

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