Trey Enloe grew up selling apples on the front porch of his mom’s shop in Bat Cave. Now, the fifth-generation apple farmer is selling his apple products to a slightly larger crowd each October during the 11-day run of the N.C. State Fair.
Last year, Trey and his wife, Melissa, took over the operation of the apple cider booth in Heritage Circle from long-time operators Susan and Jourard Lingg. The Linggs had posted a message the year before on an apple association message board sharing that they were interested in retiring from operating a booth at the Fair. “When I saw the message I thought the fair would be a good fit for us. I reached out and we ultimately took over operations half way through the 2021 N.C. State Fair,” Trey said. “It met all of our expectations. Most of the product produced on our farm in Hendersonville is sold wholesale and you don’t get a lot of direct interactions with customers. The fair was rewarding because we did get to meet customers and start building new traditions with fairgoers.”
The Enloes had actually met the Linggs many years before. Trey would visit with them at the cider booth at the fair when he was a student at N.C. State University and recalls many conversations with them about apple farming. They also met met the couple again six or seven years ago when the Linggs had posted a press for sale. “We ultimately did not purchase the press from them but we struck up a friendship that continues,” Trey said.
Trey is the manager of Bright Branch Farm, which was started by his great-great grandpa and currently owned by his dad and uncle. The farm has grown with each generation and currently has around 120 acres in apple production. “My great grandpa sold to markets in Greenville, SC,” said Trey. “He would sell in 20-bushel bins to resellers and grocery stores.”
Currently the farm grows about 50 different varieties of apples, about half of which are geared towards cider production. The farm started pressing cider commercially six years ago and currently presses juice for many of the cideries in the state including Noble in Asheville and Red Clay in Charlotte
The cider brought to the fair will be pressed right before the Enloes head to Raleigh. They use a special blend of Stayman, Winesap, Granny Smith, Red Delicious, Gold Delicious, Fuji and Honey Crisp. “Blending cider with different varietals helps you hit a lot of different notes, such as sugar, acid, tannins and body,” said Trey. “If you only use one type of apple you may make a cider that is too sweet or may lack body. A blend picks up the qualities of many different varieties and produces a cider that will please a lot of people.”
Each day of the Fair at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., Trey will be demonstrating apple pressing at the press inside their booth. “We hope a lot of people will stop by and watch how the process is done,” he said. “I’ll also be able to answer any questions about how cider is made for those who are interested.”
Trey believes that Heritage Circle might be the best place on the fairgrounds. “There’s live music, great people and you can sit by the pond.” Be sure to stop by and welcome him to the fair and pick up a hot, cold or frozen cider.