Dexter Cider Mill Opens for Its 135th Year

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Now in its 135th year, Dexter Cider Mill is the longest-running cider mill in Michigan.

By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

At least we can all agree that we love the Dexter Cider Mill, which opens today, August 27, for the 2021 season.

Owned and operated by wife/husband team Nancy and Marty Steinhauer, the Dexter Cider Mill has been a family affair since Nancy’s father, Richard Koziski, bought the mill in 1986. Richard believes that that “family feel” has made the cider mill such a popular tradition for folks.

“This cider mill has been here for 135 years,” says Richard. “Society is drifting, and traditions are not as significant today as they once were. But yet, we still want to hang on to the good things, the things that have given us good memories in the past.”

And few memories are better than getting cider and donuts with your parents. Perhaps it is this nostalgia, this memory of simpler times with apples, cider, pumpkins, corn stalks, costumes, and colored trees that have so many of us eager for opening day at the Dexter Cider Mill, the unofficial start of the best time of year.

Owner Nancy Steinhauer and her Father Richard Koziski.

Many, if not all of us, will happily stand in line on a sunny October Saturday afternoon for a jug of their 5-apple blend cider and a bag of those crazy-delicious donuts to take back home to enjoy during the football game. We bide our time enjoying the warm sun on our chilly faces, trying to avoid a Pavlovian drool from the wafting aroma of warm sugar-cinnamon donuts.

Richard’s involvement with the cider mill began 60 years ago when he took his date to the Dexter Cider Mill. Being a transplant from the east coast who now worked in the automotive industry, Richard sat on the bank of the Huron River with his date yearning for the cider mills back home. “I’m going to own a mill like this someday,” he told her.

Twenty-five years after that providential visit, the young lady was now his wife, Katherine, and the couple purchased the mill as a retirement project. The year was 1986, one hundred years after the cider mill first opened. It immediately became a family endeavor with everyone pitching in. Fifteen years ago, Nancy and Marty bought the mill from her parents and continued the tradition with their sons. All three generations are now actively involved in the business.

It’s hard to believe, but the Dexter Cider Mill has had only three owners. The Van Natter Family started the cider mill in 1886. The Otto Wagner family purchased the mill in 1900, and it was in his family for 86 years until Nancy’s father bought it in 1986. Necessary updates to the mill have occurred over the years, but the Steinhauer’s work hard to keep the feel and nostalgia intact.

Apples waiting to be washed, diced, and pressed in the traditional oak cider press.

The cider mill uses a traditional oak press to squeeze out its five-apple blend of unpasteurized cider. Along with its tangy cider and addictive donuts, the mill offers cider slushies, apple nut bread, caramel apples, and its brand of hard ciders. The old-fashioned general store also sells baked goods, jams, honey, and other locally-produced foods.

“It feels like home,” said one customer in the parking lot in describing the cider mill. She laughed and added, “Or maybe what you wish home felt like.”

Without a doubt, the Dexter Cider Mill can bring out the best in people. Richard told the story of one customer who had forgotten her money. Before Richard could tell her to take her order and come back to pay when she could, a customer behind her in the line offered to pay for her goods.

“We had a long line of people, and everybody saw it,” says Richard. “You can’t pay to get that of goodness anywhere. It just spreads.”

The Dexter Cider Mill is located at 3685 Central St. in Dexter. When visiting, be patient. You may have to circle the block to find parking. They accept cash. An ATM is available.

For more information about the Dexter Cider Mill, visit www.dextercidermill.com.

Photo credits: Doug Marrin

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