Core of new Tasmanian Cider Trail unveiled

The Apple Shed opens in Grove

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The Apple Shed - Home of Willie Smiths

The Apple Shed - Home of Willie Smiths

Willie Smiths Organic cider
The Apple Shed - Andrew Smith & food curator Michelle Crawford

 

A key component of the soon-to-be-developed Tasmanian Cider Trail was officially opened on the 15th December. The Apple Shed is the next stage in the rapid expansion of the Willie Smith Cider brand, which started last year as a way to value-add to the organic apple orchard run by the Smith family at Grove, in the Huon Valley.

After months of back breaking work, an original old 1942-built apple packing shed, which housed a museum, has been restored to its former glory.

The facility, developed at a cost of more than $450,000, including a State Government grant of $150,000, has been inspired by European cider houses.

The Apple Shed includes a re-interpretation of the museum, a providore-style shop highlighting the best Huon Valley produce on offer and will offer a menu of simple regional and seasonal produce developed to accompany refreshments from Willie Smith’s Organic Cider and another internationally-acclaimed cider,  Red Sails, produced at nearby Middleton.

The Federal Government has committed $60,000 to the development of a cider trail through the $100 million forestry peace deal funding and the Willie Smiths team is confident The Apple Shed will play a key role in attracting visitors to the Huon Valley.

"We're conscious that Tasmania competes internationally for the tourist dollar and so we felt we had to do something world class to draw people down here and to do justice to the quality of the Willie Smiths Organic Cider," co-owner Sam Reid said.

For the Smith family, the new development is a step in the right direction to return Tasmania to the apple isle it was once renowned for.

"Out the front of the museum is an original apple label painted on the door that reads 'Apple Valley'. We think that just about sums it up; if Tassie is the Apple Isle, the Huon Valley is the heart of that," said Andrew Smith, co-owner of Willie Smiths.

"The Apple Shed is a place that both acknowledges the apple industry's significant and at times challenging history and celebrates its vibrant future through the development of the cider industry. "I hope it will be the epicenter of what is hopefully about to be an incredible boom for Tasmania."

Mr Reid said the transformation into a tourism draw-card had been a rewarding experience.  "We have used all of the timber we stripped out of the shed to build the bar and entrance way and we have repurposed as much as we can, including my favourite, some old pickers’ bins which we have turned into light shades," Mr Reid said.

"Many of the old artifacts from the museum are now being used as working elements in the cider house."

The Smith family is no stranger to history, given the orchard is now into its fourth generation, and is excited to see the restoration unveiled.

"Peter Bowden was a the launch and he packed the first ever box of apples at the shed when he was a young fella," said Andrew.

"That’s just one example of how this restoration is bringing back wonderful memories for a community that has thrived on the back of the orchard industry.’"

Rob Pennicott from world-renowned Bruny Island Cruises officially opened the venue.  The launch was also be attended by the Tasmanian Premier Lara Giddings, The Minister for Economic Development David O’Byrne and Opposition Leader Will Hodgman.

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December 16th, 2013
 
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