Willie Smith's Organic Cider

Many years ago 'She'll be apples' was an Australian saying meaning, 'It's going to be OK'.

The story of the rise of Willie Smith's Organic Cider is an inspiring story of a young Tasmanian who turned a struggling apple orchard into a showpiece of quality and value-added processes. 

A cider empire starts with the cleanest air, the best soil and the purest rainfall on earth, according to Andrew Smith. But it turns out that you need to add vision, agility, determination and a whole raft of other human attributes to end up with a business like Willie Smith's Cider.

It started for Andrew on the Smith family apple farm in the Huon Valley, which had been planted originally by William ("Willie") Smith (above) in 1888. 

Andrew's father, Ian, a respected farmer and admired blue-water yachtsman (above, with Andrew), was running the business during tough times for Tasmanian apple growers in the 1990s. During a visit to Washington State, Andrew was inspired by a meeting with an award-winning organic apple grower, Doyle Fleming. Andrew brought the organic concept home and converted a block on the family farm to organic production in 1998.

"It was a huge gamble," Andrew said. "Our growing costs were far too high and the conversion actually pushed them up further. My father and I started a conversation about that and it has continued, with varying levels of intensity, for nearly 30 years," he says with a laugh. Needless to say, their apples were a huge success.

From here it was on to squeezing organic apple juice, then a shortish step to launching Willie Smith's Cider in 2012, using a blend of Tasmanian apple varieties that had been left to develop and mature on the tree, maximising flavour and sugar levels. This complex processing approach lifts flavour levels and sets Willie Smith's Organic Cider apart from the mainstream, winning Best Cider and Best Australian Cider or Perry in 2015 at the Australian Cider Awards.

 

 

 

Production is growing, at 11,000 litres a year, and the core range includes Willie Smith's Organic, Willie Smith's Bone Dry and Willie Smith's Farmhouse Perry (pear cider).

A seasonal speciality is a Lark Whisky Barrel Aged Cider in which the cider takes on hints of whisky from the barrel. The Apple Shed – a cider house, museum and provedore on the Huon Highway at Grove – is now Willie Smith's face to the world. In the rustic timber interior of a former working apple shed built in 1942, visitors can learn about the Huon's apple heritage, see an apple collection that is matched only at one other site in the world, sample a range of ciders and other valley produce or just enjoy simple fare and friendly café service.

You see, it was all 'apples' - and it was 'all right' in the end!

More information......

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