Darkes Forest apple farmers are ready to send their cider global on the back of wins in national and international awards.
The family-run Glenbernie Orchard – producers of Darkes Cider Howler – recently won the gold medal in the World Cider Awards in the Medium Sparkling Contemporary Category (for the second time), and bronze in the New World Medium Sweet Cider category.
Orchard owner Jo-Anne Fahey said this is a “big deal” because they were up against 80 other labels (including internationals) in the Australian awards alone.
“It places us really well in the Australian cider market and it means that there’s interest to stock us in more bottle shops and restaurants,” she said.
The orchard has been in the Fahey family for four generations and began producing cider and vinegar in 2013 as a way to use up excess fruit.
Ms Fahey said they’re currently in talks around distribution of the independent label interstate and internationally, and whether to start having their products stocked in larger bottle shop chains.
“We’re really supported in the Illawarra with independent bottle shops, but we’re getting inquiries from further afield now,” she said.
The awards come as Cider Australia launched a world first “trust mark” which will identify craft cider that contains 100 per cent Australian fruit – something the Fahey’s have been campaigning for.
Current labeling laws make it difficult to identify from where fruit in a cider has been sourced, with less than 15 per cent of Australia’s cider market comprising of craft ciders which are made 100 per cent home-grown fruit.
The aim is to help consumers to make more informed choices as there are no laws stopping fruit wines ethanol and flavouring concoctions being sold as cider. Ms Fahey said it will also boost Australian ciders in an international market.
“There’s no legislation requiring an alcoholic product to state where the base product comes from,” Ms Fahey said.
“No-one else [in the world] has gone down this track so they’re watching us kind of going ‘wow, the Aussies are on the front foot here’.”
Consumers will start to see the trust mark on eligible ciders in retail outlets from November, rolling out more widely over summer.
“Authenticity is very important to our industry,” Cider Australia president and craft cider producer Sam Reid said.
“The trust mark forms part of a broader strategy to elevate the craft cider category, lift competition and grow exports to allow greater investment in innovation.”
Public tours of Glenbernie Orchard – along with apple, peach and nectarine picking – will recommence from mid-November and run through to the end of January.