Those who visited Jonamac Orchard over its opening weekend got to expand their palates, in more ways than one.
The orchard at 19412 Shabbona Road, well-known for family activities such as apple picking, a petting zoo and corn maze, opened for the season Sept. 2 and unveiled its revamped cider house, which now boasts cider tastings and an outdoor patio.
Cortland resident Khalead Abdalla, 32, said he came to the orchard Sunday to try the cider house’s $5 wine tasting.
“This is my first wine tasting,” Abdalla said. “I don’t get out much, so it’s nice to ... try new things.”
Kaitlin Tamraz, 25, of Kirkland, said she was grateful for an activity geared primarily toward adults.
“A lot of the stuff here is for kids,” Tamraz said. “It’s nice to have an adult thing. I’m a kid at heart though, so I love the kids stuff, too.”
Jonamac co-owner Mike Spychal said the creation of the cider house offered the orchard the opportunity to showcase the process of making homemade cider to visitors.
“This is its first full year of being open,” Spychal said. “We’d been selling wine for a few years, and we wanted, at the same time, to grow our production.”
Spychal said the owners plan to open the production windows within the next few weeks so that visitors can watch the process of cider being made. He also said it’s great to see visitors who come out to see each new addition.
“One nice thing is having people get excited about these new projects,” said Spychal. “Every year, we try to do something new, so this year, we have the new patios outside. It’s nice to have everyone enjoy the work you’ve done.”
Other people came to the orchard to try time-tested, traditional family activities, such as apple picking.
Mike Weems, 34, of Polo, said he has made visiting the orchard a yearly tradition in his family.
“We come every year to pick apples,” he said. “I used to bring my nephew … and now I bring my own kids.”
Weems said his family’s favorite part about the orchard is the barn yard petting zoo.
“This [petting zoo] is where we spend most of our time,” he said. “[My son] loves the animals.”
Some local parents say they enjoy the orchard because it provides them with an opportunity to get together with other families.
Maggie Mosca, 35, of DeKalb said she and her family come a few times a year.
“There’s a variety of activities for different ages, and it keeps them [children] entertained.”
Loreli Wilson, 33, of Rochelle, said her family visits the orchard at least four times a year to partake in the activities, and to pick up homemade cider donuts.
“It’s fun for the whole family, and a lot of stuff is hands-on.”