Welcome to the Woodchuck Cidery!
August 6, 2014
Today, the Woodchuck Cidery opens its doors! As we cut the ribbon and pour the first pint, our President and CEO, Dan Rowell offers a few words as he welcomes all friends, family, and fans to our new home.
In 1996 I received a call from a friend of mine who worked for an employment placement agency. She said she had a job opportunity for me, but that I probably had not heard of the brand and it was a style of alcohol that no one really knew. Although the brand had been around for 5 years, she said the job was going to require a leap of faith. I interviewed and immediately sensed the company and brand were something special. This was a company with character. Ultimately I couldn’t resist and came to work for Woodchuck Hard Cider 18 years ago.
At that time, we were in Proctorsville, Vermont and filling Woodchuck bottles on a soda filler and labeler from the 1940’s. The line ran, (and broke down), 7 days a week in order to keep up with growing demand. We moved to Springfield, Vermont later that year, and in 2000 moved to Middlebury.
Hard Cider has always had its naysayers. For 23 years, people have doubted whether cider could survive in the alcoholic beverage landscape. Many didn’t believe a little company from Vermont could go up against the biggest beer companies in the world. We always said “we can’t be bigger than the big guys, but we can certainly be better”.
Over the years, I have watched Woodchuck revitalize a beverage category that all but disappeared in the wake of prohibition.
It took 23 years and the hard work of dedicated employees, but I am proud to say people now believe what we have always known… Cider is here to stay!
I am extremely proud of this company. We have 100 Vermonters that work day in and day out to deliver the highest quality ciders to every state in the country. They believe in cider and work tirelessly at their craft.
We also have a dedicated fan base. Fans have tattooed our logo on their bodies and they have honeymooned in Vermont for the expressed purpose of visiting our cidery. I remember giving a tour to a gentlemen on a Sunday when we were closed, but I happened to be at work. He was from Texas and said he was in the area for business and loved Woodchuck so much that he had to get a tour of the cidery. During the tour, I asked where he was staying in town for his business trip. He said the meeting was in Buffalo, NY. As you all know, Buffalo is not really “in the area”!
We are well respected by our wholesalers. We view them as our partners and not only do we hold up our end of the agreements, we exceed expectations. Our various suppliers work with us to ensure the best quality materials and ingredients are delivered to us in the most cost effective and sustainable way.
Long term sustainability is paramount to our business, after all apples do grow on trees. We are investing with our Vermont orchard partners, like Bill Shur at Champlain Orchards, to expand apple pressing capabilities.
We are also working with the University of Vermont and local orchards, to grow more Vermont apples in a way that is cost effective and eco-friendly for all parties involved. We get 40% of our electricity needs from Cow Power and solar energy. We create half the amount of wastewater as the best run breweries do.
We have also been blessed to be a part of this great community. The town of Middlebury and the State of Vermont have been very supportive and we thank them very much. We strive to be good members of the community. Whether it is sponsoring events like the Middlebury Chili Festival, picking and donating over 100 bushels of apples a year for the Vermont Food Bank, our work with Dragonheart Vermont’s cancer survivor organization or Habitat for Humanity.
All of this ties directly to the new cidery. This cidery is our statement and stands as our commitment to Vermont. Woodchuck is real cider from a real place. While the big commercial cider companies are spending $30 million a year on television advertising, we consider this cidery a $34 million investment in ensuring Vermont remains at the forefront of the cider movement in the United States.
I should also mention, Vermonters not only work in this cidery, they built it. 45 different Vermont companies from every corner of the state had a hand in building this state of the art cidery. There is no other cidery like this in the country and it was built by Vermonters.
I would like to thank Arnold and Scangas Architects for their vital role in the building process. I also want to thank Design Group, who managed the whole project from start to finish. As you can see, they have built something truly awesome.
Lastly, I have to thank all those that have helped us along the way. Back in 1996, I took a leap of faith, you could feel something special in the air when you walked into Woodchuck. That spirit, along with the hard work and commitment of employees past and present has taken this brand to places nobody ever believed we would go.
On August 23rd, we are going to celebrate with a Grand Opening Ciderbration and Concert. Some 10,000 people have signed up for tickets and will be descending upon Middlebury. It is going to be quite an event and we can’t wait to welcome our fans and friends.
~ Dan Rowell, President and CEOBack to Blog