Apple wassailing with Willie Smith’s Cider in Huon Valley, Tasmania: Season One, Episode Six

This week on the Drinks Adventures podcast, we foray into cider and some of the ancient traditions associated with the annual apple harvest.

William Smith & Sons is one of the oldest family businesses in Tasmania’s Huon Valley. Founder Willie Smith planted the first tree in their apple orchard in 1888 and fourth generation family member Andrew Smith is the current orchardist, responsible for taking the farm organic in the late 90s.

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And in 2012, drinks marketer Sam Reid partnered with Smithy to launch Willie Smith’s Cider, putting apples that are not good enough to sell to very good use.

They’ve continued to evolve Willie Smith’s over the last few years with the introduction of heritage apple varieties to their orchard.

Most of the ciders made in Australia that are actually made from real apples are made using the same varieties of apple you would find in your local supermarket, which is the equivalent of making wine from table grapes.

There’s been a few cider makers that have pioneered the use of proper cider apples in Australia but arguably it’s been Willie Smith’s that’s brought this evolution of cider to the fore, with its multiple wins of Best In Show at the Australian Cider Awards, most recently in the last few weeks with the single variety Kingston Black Cider.

Willie Smith’s has also introduced to Australia the ancient ceremony known as ‘wassailing’ at its Huon Valley Mid-Winter Festival held annually in July. I went down this year to find out what it’s all about.

Thank you to all the bands who performed at the festival and gave me permission to use their music in this episode: 8Foot Felix, The Dead Maggies and Vulgargrad.

Congratulations to Jeni Port who I spoke with last week and was subsequently awarded the Wine Communicators of Australia 2018 Legend of the Vine Award for Victoria, recognising her contribution to the wine industry as a journalist and a critic over many years.

Look out for some bonus content in the podcast feed over the next few days featuring Sam Reid of Willie Smith’s.

You can find all previous shows, show notes, transcripts and links to lots of related information on the podcast website drinksadventures.com.au.

Music tracklisting for this episode:
8Foot Felix – Mad Isle
Vulgargrad – Oy Yo Oy
8Foot Felix – Q Town
8Foot Felix – Whales Prelude
The Dead Maggies – Black Mary
The Dead Maggies – Tommy Pieman
VulgarGrad – Super Good

Follow James Atkinson on Facebook here, Instagram here and Twitter here.

Theme music ‘Sandbox’ by Cameo Culture. You can listen to more from Cameo Culture at https://soundcloud.com/cameoculture.

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