Starting with nothing but dreams of owning their own farms, Kishbaugh and Lehman, who now own farms that combine to form the roughly 40 acres of orchards surrounding the cidery, brought that dream to reality when Big Hill Ciderworks was founded in 2013.
"Troy had been making wines and ciders for three or four years before we met in 2006," said Kishbaugh, who began homebrewing while living in Detroit, Michigan. "So this was kind of a dream of both of ours to own farms. But then to also culminate wine-making, fermentation with beer, farming. This (Big Hill) kind of brings it all together."
Since then, Big Hill Ciderworks has exploded into the cider scene, utilizing their own grassroots approach to achieve new levels of cider production that celebrates carefully crafted combinations of the varieties of apples grown on their orchards.
Big Hill has continued to gain more recognition in the cider industry for their flavorful concoctions, winning Best in Show at the PA Farm Show in 2019 and 2018, the first year that the cider competition was introduced at the show.
Settling in Adams County for the unique microclimates and soil types that the area is known for and their personal histories with the area, Lehman's and Kishbaugh’s orchards are home to more than 40 varieties of apples chosen specifically for their ciders.
"Number one, it's the soil. Where we are is about 1,000 vertical-feet and its a silty-loam soil so it drains really well, retains nutrients and just caters to fruit growing — whether it be peaches or apples," Kishbaugh explained. "Number two, it's basically home for Troy and I.
'He grew up right at the bottom of the hill and had been playing through these orchards as a kid. For me, it's close to home (Dillsburg, PA), about 20-miles or so. But more of it is just about having the land and our ties to the land. Troy has said this before, 'There are other areas in the country where you can grow pretty fruit, but I don't think that they can get the flavor profile that we can get from this little area of the country, right on the side of South Mountain."