Duluth Cider will become the first cidery ever in Duluth
Editor’s note: Duluth Cider has officially announced their grand opening for Wednesday, Nov. 14.
Duluth Cider is a new cidery set to open in mid-November. Owners Jake and Valerie Scott have not announced an exact day on which they will be opening.
Jake and Valerie met at UMD their freshman year and hit it off due to their love of brewing. They would homebrew beer in their freetime, they even made all of the beer for their wedding in 2013.
“For some reason we loved it,” Jake said. “It was our favorite thing.”
After getting married, they moved to Minneapolis for a few months before heading out to Boston. Cider culture is big in Massachusetts with over a hundred orchards in the state, which is where Jake developed his love for cider.
Valerie was interested in cider making, as well as wine making. Cider is technically a wine because it is a fermented fruit drink. So, Valerie got a job at a cidery in Salem, Massachusetts, called Far From the Tree Cider.
“[Far From the Tree] wasn’t just a part-time job for me on the weekends,” Valerie said. “It was something where I wanted to learn about [cider crafting].”
It was here when Jake had his first taste of good cider, which he described as “eye opening.”
“There’s a whole world of discovery here in cider,” Jake said. “We love beer, so let’s start playing around with cider.”
They moved out to Boston in 2014. They had been living there for about a year before one day Jake and Valerie were sitting in the taproom of Far From the Tree and had an idea.
“We both had the same thought at the same time,” Jake said, “and it was ‘why was no one making cider in Duluth?’ It doesn’t make any sense.”
The thought of “why is no one making cider in Duluth?” eventually became overtime, “someone should be making cider in Duluth.”
“That turned into, I guess we’re doing this,” Jake said.
They began making plans for Duluth Cider three years ago. First was figuring out where they would source all their apples from. All of the apples come from orchards all across Minnesota. They have to spend harvest season, which some apples harvest date being late July and some are early October and have to try to project how many they will need for the rest of the year, because they don’t want to have to order too many or too little.
“Our product is seasonal,” Valerie said, “so six months out of the year we’re calling orchards and finding out if their season went well and if they’ll have enough apples to press into juice for us to plan ahead.”
In July 2017, they moved back to Duluth to proceed with the plan. They figured out the location they wanted, the recipes, and their business plan.
“We were doing everything we could from a distance,” Jake said. “Up until a point where it’s like ‘alright now to keep moving we have to be back home.’”
There were a few struggles they faced in getting Duluth Cider running. They are considered by the city as an “urban winery,” which there has never been before and Duluth didn’t carry any licenses for them.
“We said ‘what do we do now?’” Jake said. “A lot of it we’ve had to figure out, ‘what next, what does someone do in this situation?’”
Since they set the precedent for cideries, any future cideries will have a smoother transition obtaining their license. They eventually received their license after working with the city throughout the process.
“Even the individuals in City Hall were going to bat for us,” Jake said, “because they are good Duluthians who want to see us do well.”
Jake noted that other businesses have been kind regarding any questions they might have about the business. They have been grinding out the construction every day since June 2018, until about 11 to midnight each day. Some days they putting in over 100 hour per week to get the place ready.
“There’s a lot of good Duluthians who believe in what we’re doing and are ready for some good cider in this town,” Jake said.
While working at Far From the Tree, Valerie learned about the process of production. When Jake and Valerie decided to proceed with their plan, they notified the owner of the cidery, Al Snape, who was more than happy to help. According to Valerie, Snape said that he would help with everything he wished he knew before about running a cidery.
Going through the process of starting their own business, Jake and Valerie became aware of all the other aspects of being an owner besides production. They hired a friend of theirs Christian Fraser, as the Production Manager. They knew of his background in brewing and wanted him to strictly focus on production. He also has his masters in Biology, so he knows how different ingredients will change the cider’s flavor.
“We hired him to 100 percent babysit the product and make sure it tastes good,” Jake said.
Duluth Cider will also begin distributing it’s cider to local bars and restaurants starting this winter. Jake said that they also plan on canning the cider, but don’t have a specific date on when it will happen.
“[Distribution] is necessary for your business to grow,” Valerie said. “By having kegs on tap at other places throughout the community, that’s advertisement for us.”
Jake and Valerie envision Duluth Cider as a place for people to come and have fun. They are putting in a sound system to carry live music. There will be snacks from local vendors, as well as delivery options.
“You can carry in whatever you want,” Jake said. “You can bring in McDonalds. You can bring in lobster. I don’t care what you bring in.”
Jake is from Brainerd, Minnesota and Valerie is from Chaska, Minnesota, and since arriving in Duluth, both have taken it to be their home. They love the city and want their product to reflect that.
“We want to rise to the task of creating a Duluth quality cider,” Jake said. “We want to make a cider Duluthians are proud of, that Minnesotans are proud of to say ‘this is our cider, when you come here, you got to try it.’”