Engaging European Expertise – Tasmanian cider producer to learn from the best
The team from Willie Smith's Organic Cider embarks on internation study tour
European history and Tasmanian innovation will meet this month when the team from Willie Smith’s Organic Cider embarks on an international study tour.
Co-owner Sam Reid and cider maker Rowl Muir-Wilson will spend two weeks travelling to the world’s most famous cider regions – Normandy in France, Spain’s Basque Region and Somerset in the UK.
Mr Reid, the Vice President of Cider Australia, said it was important to build strong relationships with the pioneers of cider production as the local industry grows in numbers and reputation.
"Linking with world class producers can only benefit us locally as we bring some of the knowledge, skills and experience back to Tasmania," Mr Reid said.
There is already a diverse range of cider styles in Tasmania and hopefully this trip can keep Tasmania at the forefront of experimentation with new styles and processes – not to mention apple varieties!
Australian cider accounts for 3.5 per cent of total alcohol spending whereas in the UK it is closer to 15 per cent.
"At Cider Australia we are interested in building a long-term sustainable category as they have done in France and the UK," Mr Reid said.
Huon Valley-based Willie Smith’s Organic Cider is no stranger to innovation as brewers of the state’s first organic cider. But, Mr Reid said the already highly-acclaimed product could be improved further.
"Our business is in its infancy whereas most of these producers have been making cider for at least 200 years and many of them have links going back 400 or so years," Mr Reid said.
"We are hoping to learn from that experience and help move the Australian cider industry forward in the same way the wine industry learnt French techniques in the 1970’s."
Adds Mr Muir-Wilson: "Two key things I hope to gain a better understanding of during the tour are the barrel ageing techniques that are being used and also how they have established their cidery cellar doors to become tourist attractions – these are things Willie Smith's is keen to do in the coming years".
Mr Reid said he was very excited to be meeting Eric Borderlet in Normandy – creator of the world’s most famous premium cider.
The Normandy tour will also include visits to Pierre Huet, Calvados Dupont and Michel Hubert.
"In Spain we will see how they operate their sagerdotegi, or cider house. Most are very small producers serving only in the local area straight from the barrels," Mr Reid explained.
"In Somerset we will be staying with the Thatcher family from Thatcher’s Cider Mill. They are fifth generation apple farmers so there are similarities between them and the Willie Smith’s model – with the Smith family being in operation in the Huon Valley since 1888."
Finishing the tour off with a visit to renowned author and cider researcher Andrew Lea in Oxfordshire, the team expects to gain a huge amount of knowledge from the trip whilst having a great time doing so!
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