Our Cider Story
Where had summer gone? It was a cold wet, Autumn evening. The team was gathered around the kitchen table at week’s end.
Because we’re a deeply philosophical lot, the observation was made that, while we were heading towards winter, on the other side of the world, summer was about to return.
Somehow, the conversation drifted into the topic of the big OE and how most had spent a year or three in London.
From there, it was only a hop, skip and a jump to the drinking traditions of England and their delight in a pint of beer or cider.
Now, there’s no denying the pleasure of a pint and the growing following of craft beers is noteworthy but what really caught our attention, was the thought of cider and how there was something about cider that just conjures up thoughts of summer. Maybe not thoughts so much as images. Images of sunny days, picnics, rolling hills, ploughmans’ lunches, apple orchards, rosy apples, bucolic bliss.
As we warmed to the theme, we remarked how, in our view, it was curious that while craft beers had taken off, cider was yet to hit its stride. Yet cider seems to be able to capture the very essence of summer, like summer in a bottle.
Cider we thought. Interesting. Potentially fascinating if we thought about it differently. Maybe something we might do. But if we were going to do it, it would have to be different and it would have to be better. That’s a belief we take to everything we do.
And so, our cider journey began.
A Premium Cider is born from Premium apples
Were all ciders born equal we asked ourselves? No, some had the distinct advantage of using New Zealand rather than imported apples. Let’s step this up, we thought. Let’s see if we can use organic apples in our cider.
Now in the world of organic apples, John Bostock, based in the Hawke’s Bay, known to one and all as ‘JB’ reigns supreme. JB is in fact the largest exporter of organic produce from New Zealand and his produce from the farmers and orchardists he works with, can be found as far as Japan, Germany and the UK.
JB’s first love was apples and he remains passionate about them as well as the benefits of organics both individually and to the country.
As it so happens, Liv Glazebrook, our New Product Developer at the time, is a niece of JB’s and he's also a very good friend of founder Peter.
One phone call to JB, and we have all the organic apples we need. All of a sudden, we had a reason to think about creating a cider with that something special, that something extra. Organic apples. Now this was getting interesting.
A delightful difference
From the very beginning of Lewis Road, we’ve always searched for that something ‘extra’, often a quite subtle twist that sets our products aside. We knew we could create a first-class cider, using organic apple juice and crafted with a level of care suited to a good wine.
So, we decided to step it up. What if we took our cider and gave it a wonderful twist?
Could we do to cider what we had done to ice cream back in the day when we launched Artisan Rose Ice Cream? That took everyone by a very pleasant surprise because it introduced a flavour that was both different and exotic but somehow just right for an indulgent treat.
So, Liv got back in the kitchen and worked with some fine fruits to identify three that lifted the cider to a whole new level.
The varietals were thought long and hard about. Each had to have a ‘reason for being’, and one which fits naturally with a drink which is created from fruit grown on trees in orchards.
Three such fruits stood out. As you might expect, Apple. But also, Peach and now Lime. When adding a burst of these fruits in the smallest dose to an already great cider, they are transformative. They take the cider from good to sublime and they absolutely allow us to ‘put summer in a bottle’.
When you drink one of our ciders, you’ll immediately notice the fresh botanical scent on the nose, the taste is fresh and clean, not overly sweet or acidic, the perfect balance between the two in fact, to create a crisp, quenching pour.
Brewed with the utmost care
To make sure we could make enough of our premium cider at the quality we have set for ourselves, we are working with Mills Reef, a winery based in Tauranga and best known for their Chardonnay and Syrah which also sources its fruit from Hawke’s Bay. Mills Reef is a family owned winery still run by the Preston Family, they have been making wine for almost 30 years. Not all wine makers know how to make cider, so we are fortunate to be working with such craftsmen for ours.