Apple Falls Cider Company
Amelia Campbell grew up around apples. Her family has owned and operated the popular Campbell’s Orchard in Carrying Place for many years, and when the cider trend began to take its initial hold in Prince Edward County and the broader Bay of Quinte Region, a number of folks looking for quality raw materials came to the Campbells.
It took a few years, but the family – led by Amelia and her partner Matt Oskamp – was convinced that they too need to get in on the craft cider phenomenon. After a lot of hard work, research and developing marketing strategies, Apple Falls Cider was born in early 2017, with a soft launch at Maple in the County.
“My dad had always made sweet cider, just for the family and special occasions. And then Matt and I went over to England in 2012 and we went to a couple of cideries over there and I really liked the product and so did Matt. So we decided to start making it as a hobby once we got back. County Road Beer and Hinterland Wine Co. were buying apples from our orchard to make their own cider and everybody was asking us why we weren’t doing hard cider. It was a question my dad was asked a lot, but he just didn’t want to. So Matt and I took a few bushels and we tried it,” said Campbell.
“We experimented quite a bit as a hobby first and really liked the beverage, and just decided to go for it and start our own cidery. We talked about doing it for so long and one day we just decided to pull the trigger. We applied for a grant through PELA CFDC [Prince Edward-Lennox & Addington Community Futures Development Corporation] and then when we got the grant it was a sign that we were really doing this there’s no turning back.”
As with any new venture, there was a tremendous amount of work involved developing the product line, the marketing, ensuring all the paperwork was up to snuff, but Campbell and Oskamp were up for the challenge.
“Matt and I worked hard every night because we both work full-time jobs as well. So basically it was an after-work full time job, especially doing all the paperwork for the licencing. We did have a lot of support from The County officials and we always knew who to reach out to. Licencing is a pretty involved process but ultimately everybody is there to help you out and do it right. It was a long process but we’re all used to hard work, so we just did what we had to do,” Campbell said.
“To actually make the product is also a lot of work. Obviously doing a batch of 2,000 litres compared to a small 10 litre jug for our own personal use is a little bit scary, but, again, you just have to do it. We have our manufacturer’s licence and we started selling the last weekend in March. And the orchard sells it during the week during their regular store hours. And then we’re there on the weekends for tastings. There’s a licenced patio at the orchard as well. We have a licence where you can buy it per glass to drink on site.”
County Road Beer also has a tap, and it is available in bottles at The Pier BBQ and Patio at Meyer’s Pier in Belleville and The Grange in Prince Edward County.
Campbell said hard cider is a great beverage for those who don’t particularly care for beer, but want something a little ‘harder’ than coolers or sweet cider.
“I think it really is the middle ground. A lot of girls who aren’t big beer drinkers will turn to a cider. It is a gluten-free beverage as well, so if you try to avoid drinking gluten or if you have a celiac allergy, cider is a great option because if it’s a true cider, it won’t have any oats or barley in it. That’s why some breweries will offer a cider,” she said.
“We are lucky because we do have the orchard as our main selling location, so even if people are not necessarily coming to try the cider, we can sometimes capture the customers at the orchard and educate them. Some people actually don’t know what a hard cider is, and so we are educating people and having them try it. It’s also a great way for us to get some organic feedback.”
Apple Falls is marketing three primary brands of cider. Premiere is made from Northern Spy, Empire, Russet, Red Delicious, Brandywine Crab-apple, Flemish Beauty and Bosc pears, while Heritage features later-season apples and Heritage & Cherry which saw cherries added during the fermentation process.
“We also use maple syrup from The County to get the natural carbonation for the Heritage. I think right now our selling point is that we are offering dry cider, and a lot of other ciders I would say can be very sweet. We are appealing to the dry cider fan who likes a traditional cider made from 100 per cent apples,” said Campbell.
Campbell and Oskamp are finding that one of the big advantages of having a craft cidery in Prince Edward County and the broader Bay of Quinte Region is that there is such a spirit of co-operation and collegiality amongst all the craft makers in the area.
“That’s what’s so nice about everything; everyone wants to help each other out, everyone wants help market each other’s products. It happens at least once a weekend that we will get a referral from someone else in the area. I like that idea that we all seem to possess in that if more people come here or to some of the other places, it means more people coming into the area overall. And people will likely go to more than one place if they’ve made the trip. That’s why collaboration is so good,” said Campbell.
For more information on Apple Falls Cider, visit www.applefallscider.ca.