September 4, 2018

Ragged Hill Cider expanding after first year

Photo | Courtesy
Ragged Hill Cider Co. will open a new tasting room by this weekend.

Ragged Hill Cider Co. has completed its first year and has already begun expanding capacity and adding more room to the cidery and retail space at the West Brookfield location of Ragged Hill Orchard. In an interview with WBJ, co-owner Anne Garwood-Hampp spoke about the cidery's successful first year in business.

How has the first year been?

It's been good! We picked up some more farmers markets, and we've been focusing on building this new production space. We've added about 1,500 square feet of production space and a new 500-square-foot tasting room.

When did the production space and tasting room increase happen?

It's still kind of happening. We finished the production spaced and moved into it about three months ago. The tasting room will be finished just in time for this weekend.

The tasting room is a new space?

It's a new building all together. We were previously sharing space with the orchard's fruit sales room before.

How much capacity has been added?

We've added a new bin tipper, conveyor belt, apple washer and grinding set for pressing. We now have two 10-barrel capacity tanks.

We also have a lot more room for storage and some barrel aging projects we're working on. We just have room that we didn't have before when we were confined to a small space.

What was production like in year one, and how will that change in year two?

We've sold about 500 cases of cider in our first year of operations and will double that our second year. It takes 100 bushels of apples to make 100 cases of cider. With 14 acres of orchards producing up to 1,000 bushels an acre, our new production facility and ability to keep apples in storage for up to eight months, we are capable of producing 1,000 cases every two months.

Is the cidery planning to add more wholesale accounts with the added capacity?

We've been focusing on direct-to-consumer sales through farmers markets and at the orchard last year. Now that our capacity has increased, we're kegging now and can better service pubs, bars and consumer accounts. We're now on tap at Rapscallion and Homefield Brewery in Sturbridge. We're hoping to expand in that direction.

Bottles are now also available at North Main Provisions in Worcester and Yankee Spirits in Sturbridge and Swansea.

Why doesn't Ragged Hill add any sugars to the cider?

We're sort of purists when it comes to cider. We're apple growers and spend a lot of care and attention to growing them the way we want them. We harvest when their peaking in natural sugars. The apples have plenty of sugar, and we want the true taste of our apples to come through.

Do other ciders have added sugar?

Many do, but there's quite a movement toward dryer ciders. They're extremely food friendly and lighter to drink. If people are looking for a gluten free or no sugar-added option, it really fits that.

This interview was conducted and edited by WBJ Staff Writer Zachary Comeau.


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