During CiderCon, a panel of four professional cidermakers gathered for an exclusive discussion on commercial cider. The Q&A panel consisted of Eleanor Leger (Eden Specialty Ciders), Brent Miles (Sly Clyde Ciderworks), Marcus Robert (Tieton Cider Works), and Tim Godfrey (Golden State Cider). Each shared guidance on finance, production, marketing, and more. Here are some highlights and additional tips on launching a new commercial cidery.
Funding Your Cidery: Many of the panelists agreed that receiving a bank loan or finding an investor was the most successful way to starting up a cidery.
According to other cidermakers in the audience and an article published in The Cider Journal, cideries across the country have used crowdfunding to launch or expand their business:
- Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider: $16,317
- Cunningham Creek Hard Cider: $25,006
- The Lost Apple Project: $14,223
- Cider Riot:$20,686
- Bishop Cider Company:$20,139
- Homestead Hard Cider:$11,127
- Lake Drum Brewing:$12,196
There’s no right or wrong answer. Learn about what business model is a fit for your vision and consult a financial adviser to help execute it.
Start-up with Inexpensive Supplies: IBC totes may not be the best system for storage, but it can be used for fermentation. Using this affordable option has some downfalls. With no glycol system in place, it will be hard to manage temperature control. It’s also more difficult to keep the flex tank sanitized due to hard to reach areas. Choose wisely.
What’s Your Story: Although equipment quality is crucial, don’t lose your focus on marketing. Find out who you are, what you produce, and why before opening your business. Share your compelling story and its clearly articulated to your consumers.
Tasting Room Tips: Location, location, location! If opening up a tasting room, find a facility that is within 1 – 1.5 hours of a major city. Completing a tasting room won’t guarantee visitors unless it’s within convenient vicinity.
Start off with four core ciders, and then expand to limited or seasonal series. Having too many options confuses the consumer.
According to Medium.com, psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper from Columbia and Stanford University published a study about jams in 2000. At a grocery store, customers were given 24 different options of jams. On another day, customers were given only 6 different types of jam choices. The study showed that customers were more likely to make a purchase with fewer options then feel overwhelmed with too many.
Helicopter Cidermaker: As a new cidermaker, stay actively involved with your product.
Fermentation spikes may happen, but keep the temperature within a 2-degree range. Learn your yeast strain and remember low and slow on the cooler end is safer. Measure the cider every day or two and track it.