Willie Smith’s Cider tourism expansion

Apple Museum development at forefront of new Tasmanian cider trail

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Willie Smith’s Organic Cider will further invest in Tasmania’s tourism industry, with a major development to be finished in time for summer.

Less than a year after launching the country’s first purpose-built organic cidery, the Huon Valley business has bought the adjacent Apple Museum and will transform it with a $250,000 redevelopment made possible with the assistance of a grant of $150,000 from the state government.

Willie Smith’s co-owner Andrew Smith said the development was a perfect chance to capitalise on the growing popularity of cider across the country, whilst ensuring the history of Tasmania’s pioneering apple farmers was maintained and celebrated.

The development, at Grove, on the Huon Highway, is deemed necessary by Willie Smiths to cater for a growing number of visitors to the historic orchard who are keen to learn more about the popular beverage.

"We have had so many people interested in what we are doing and just dropping into the packing shed where we make the cider which has been fantastic," Mr Smith said.

"Unfortunately it’s a working operation which is not designed to handle visitors at any scale. This summer we think the sheer volume of people dropping in could become unmanageable and we want to provide the best experience we possibly can."

The development will include detailed history exhibitions about the apple industry – with artifacts dating back to the mid 1800s including portraits of Willie Smith’s family – as well as cider displays, a tasting bar and a providore-style shop-front.

Co-founder Sam Reid , who has recently returned from a European cider study tour where he gained a greater appreciation for value-adding to the apple industry, said the next stage of the project would also include a copper still for the production of apple brandy.

"The Apple Museum gives us the opportunity to have a specific cellar door where we can educate people about the history of the Huon Valley apple industry and where this industry is today with the development of cider," Mr Reid said.

"We plan to work with the other cider producers and offer tastings of their cider and also offer a range of organic Huon Valley produce. But this development is about more than Willie Smith’s - we want a space that the local people can feel a strong connection to their community and re-familiarise themselves with the history and heritage of the Huon Valley."

Mr Reid said the newly formed Cider Tasmania was determined to develop a cider trail in time for summer, with the Willie Smith’s Apple Museum project a key draw card.

"We hope that this will give a significant boost to tourism in the Huon Valley, we want this to become a `must do’ experience for visitors to Southern Tasmania!"

"Tasmania is now offering a critical mass of attractions to bring people here and we are hoping to extend that to further encourage visitors to the Huon Valley region.  Around the corner from us is Home Hill Winery which is a fantastic experience and lots of people travel down to dine with Steve Cumper at the Red Velvet Lounge in Cygnet and so we are hoping a few more attractions might mean more people stay overnight or longer.’"

The redeveloped Apple Museum is scheduled for opening in November this year.

Regions

  • Huon and Channel (TAS)

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July 29th, 2013
 
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