Family fruit business enters 4th generation

Staff reports
The Chronicle Express

Penn Yan

You will see many familiar faces this fall at the Apple Barrel, along with new ones when you stop by to pick your own or buy your apples. This spring, Michael & Allison (Wager) Hiller purchased 80 acres of the 160-acre farm owned by Allison’s parents, Bernie & Roxanne Wager. Along with the purchase of the land, they also purchased the Apple Barrel Orchards business.

Michael & Allison (Wager) Hiller and Allison’s parents, Bernie & Roxanne Wager are ready to welcome apple pickers this Friday with new check-in, weighing, and check-out stations for COVID-19 safety.

Fruit farming for the Wagers started in 1922 when Allison’s great-grandparents, Forrest & Olive Wager purchased the land. Allison’s grandparents, Charles & Barbara Wager, owned the land from the early 1960s, and then her parents purchased the land in 1992.

The Apple Barrel was started in the early 1970s by Bernie’s uncle and aunt, Robert & Catherine Wager, and was originally located on Wager Hill Road. Bernie & Roxanne purchased the land and business from Robert in 1994, and in 2005, decided to move the business to its current location at the corner of  Sand Hill and County House Roads.

Apple Barrel Orchards on Sand Hill opens Friday.

Allison grew up surrounded by apples and grapes, and so is very familiar with fruit growing. After high school, she pursued other interests and received a degree in Psychology from Penn State University. For many years she traveled for work, but the love of the Finger Lakes and the family farm brought her back to the area. She met Michael and found out he also had a love for the area and wanted to own his own business.

Although Michael is new to farming, he enjoys the great outdoors. He attended Alaska Pacific University with a BA in Outdoor Studies and a minor in Environmental Science. He is currently enrolled at FLCC in the AAS viticulture and wine technology program and is working with Bernie to learn everything he can to continue in the family business.

Visit to see what apples are ripe for picking.