Australian first for Huon Valley - Willie Smith's Organic Cider
In what is believed to be an Australian first, building starts in Tasmania's Huon Valley on country’s first 100 per cent organic apple cidery
One of Tasmania’s oldest apple farming families will this week start writing a new chapter in its orchard’s history.
The venture is believed to be Australia’s first purpose-built cidery to commercially produce 100 per cent organic apple cider.
Construction of a bottling plant has started with production of the brew to begin in September, ahead of a product launch in November – just in time for Beer Fest, the Taste of Tasmania and Festivale.
The unique cidery is being built within the grounds of the 55ha Huon Valley orchard, which has been operated by the Smith family since 1888.
Managing Director Andrew Smith, the fourth generation Smith family farmer, is no stranger to new initiatives – having been the catalyst for transforming the orchard into a certified organic business in 1999.
‘I became disenchanted with conventional production in the mid-1990s and went travelling to learn about organics and came home to convert the farm,’ he said. ‘It was a massive risk because we literally had to throw out every tool in the shed, say `goodbye’ to all of our customers. It took four years to fully convert.’
The decision proved successful, with Raw Organics now the sole supplier of organic apples to Woolworths nationally.
He’s about to embark upon his next adventure, a $250,000 partnership with Mr Reid, a former Launceston resident who has worked across the globe. His last position was as a marketing manager at Diageo in charge of international beverage brands including Guinness and Baileys.
Willie Smith’s Organic Cider is a French-inspired, farmhouse-style cider, using a process including barrel aging, Malolactic fermentation and blending.
‘ I’ve always loved apples and craft beer and so I thought why not make a cider that has more complexity and depth with a rounded mouth feel that would appeal to people like me,’ Mr Reid said. ‘In addition drinkers can know that they are drinking a 100% organic cider which uses the best apples, born from four generations of Tasmanian apple farming expertise. ‘ I’m hoping that this product will raise the bar everywhere and at a minimum ensure that everyone should be using freshly crushed apples and not using cheap concentrate!’
Both are firm believers in the benefits of organic: ‘I believe that the less you actually do to a product in terms of adding artificial stuff the better,’ Mr Reid said. Their grand vision is to build a cellar-door in conjunction with the business, allowing tourists the chance to see a working orchard and enjoy the fruits of their labour, as well as creating more jobs in the region.
‘Hopefully we can once again help Tassie lay claim to being the apple isle!’ Mr Reid said.
What: Willie Smith’s Organic Cider
Where: Smith family farm, Huon Valley – just 25 minutes south of Hobart.
When: Building of bottling plant starts on Wednesday, product to be launched in November.
- The orchard has 74,500 trees across seven varieties that were first planted in 1888;
- It produces 2,000 tonnes of fruit each year;
- The new cider business will consume 5 per cent of the apple crop.
- Up to 6,000 24-bottle cartons of Willie Smith’s Organic Cider will be produced in the first year of production, with plans to continue expansion.
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