One would have thought with an active apple producing region on the doorstep of the Helerberg that pure apple cider would be a commonplace. Not so.
Windermere Estates just outside of Grabouw, launched what is believed to be the only pure apple cider producer in South Africa earlier this year. And the product will be on show in the Helderberg in Somerset Mall’s Wine Festival from 25 to 27 June this year. Windermere’s pure apple cider is the product of farm owner Mark Stanford and cider maker Andre Le Roux. It was some four years ago that the dream of both men was converted into action.
“Making apple cider was something that both of us just wanted to do,” explains Mark. But cider making is not – as what might be popularly believe– a natural progression from owning 60ha of apple farm and selling apples. Cider was manufactured commercially in South Africa around 40 years ago, the market however dried up partially because there was no market and partially because of what Mark calls a “bad mix.”
BIG SWING TO CIDER
“There has been a big swing to drinking cider” lately he says. His research appears as accurate as William Tell’s arrow. They recently won a Wine Exhibition at the Good Hope Centre and drew loads of attention.
NERVOUS ABOUT SHOWING
Mark however is nervous about showing the young operation. Their press- not the latest piece of equipment as cider making technology goes – was imported from Germany. And pressing is done by a handful of farm employees for two weeks of every year. The small operation has produced some 40,000L of cider in 1998. The expertise comes mostly from Andre. For 17 years he was a production manager at Appeltiser and he spent 4 years training to make cider in Germany. Mark has been the owner of Windermere – one of the oldest farms in Grabouw- for 15 years. He has been involved in the apple industry for just under 30 years.
Despite the small operation Mark believes they have what it takes to make it in the local market. They have already begun experimenting with variations of the cider such as vintage cider which can be served as a desert wine and other attractive options. Soon they will also be launching the sales of Windermere 375 ml bottle as opposed to the 750ml bottle they currently use.
District Mail – 26 June 1998