Andrew and Ian Smith. Photo Ali Nasseri
New kid on the Tassie cider scene, Willie Smith’s Organic Cider, is investing in a piece of Tasmania’s tourism industry, buying the Apple Museum in the Huon Valley.
Less than a year after launching their purpose-built organic cidery, the business has bought the adjacent property, planning to transform it with a $250,000 redevelopment – made possible with a grant of $150,000 from the state government – that will be completed in time for summer.
Co-owner Andrew Smith says that the development is a perfect chance to capitalise on the growing popularity of cider in Australia, while also ensuring the history of Tasmania’s pioneering apple farmers is maintained and celebrated. The brand deems the development necessary to cope with the growing number of visitors keen to learn more about the increasingly popular beverage.
“We have had so many people interested in what we are doing and just dropping into the packing shed where we make the cider which has been fantastic,” says Smith. “Unfortunately it’s a working operation which is not designed to handle visitors at any scale. This summer we think the sheer volume of people dropping in could become unmanageable and we want to provide the best experience we possibly can.”
The museum development will include detailed history exhibitions about the apple industry – with artefacts dating back to the mid 1800s, including portraits of Willie Smith’s family – as well as cider displays, a tasting bar and a provedore-style shop.
Co-founder Sam Reid says the next stage of the project will also include a copper still for the production of apple brandy.
“The Apple Museum gives us the opportunity to have a specific cellar door where we can educate people about the history of the Huon Valley apple industry and where this industry is today with the development of cider,” he says. “We plan to work with the other cider producers and offer tastings of their cider and also offer a range of organic Huon Valley produce. This development is about more than Willie Smith’s – we want a space that the local people can feel a strong connection to their community and re-familiarise themselves with the history and heritage of the Huon Valley.”
The redeveloped Apple Museum is scheduled for opening in November this year.