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PAGE 30 — 2011 Addison County Guide to Local Food and Farms

Local roots, national distribution By Andrew Stein The humble beginnings of Woodchuck Hard Cider trace back to 1990 in Proctorsville, Vermont with a bundle of Vermont apples, a ten ounce 1940’s soda bottling machine, a Gatorade bottle to top off the last two ounces, and a firm commitment to creating high quality cider. Back then, few would have guessed that this little cider operation would one day grow to control 62 percent of the national hard cider market. Perhaps Bret Williams would have been one of those few — after jumping on board the Woodchuck team in 1996 as their first salesperson, he became President and CEO of Green Mountain Beverage (GMB) after he and a team of investors purchased the company in 2003. Although Woodchuck’s rapid expansion has led GMB to source apples from other states, the company still espouses Vermont ingredients. “I don’t think that a lot of people realize that the quality of apples that come out of the state of Vermont are some of the best in the world,” said Williams. GMB still sources apples from Shoreham’s Champlain Orchards and other Addison County orchards, and Williams said that 100 percent of Woodchuck’s ingredients come from within the U.S. Here in Addison County, GMB plays an integral role: providing 75 jobs to the area, working with many local businesses, and even pitching in some volunteer hours. According to Williams, GMB was the first business to kick off the Vermont Pick

for your Neighbor Program. Under the program, half of GMB’s employees take the day off to pick several hundred pounds of apples at local orchards, and GMB pays the bill. The apples are donated to hungry Vermont families through the Vermont Foodbank. So what’s next on Woodchuck’s agenda? New duds. Right now, the company is in the due diligence process of purchasing a 120,000 square foot facility on Route 7. The new facility is twice the size of the company’s current base of operations, and it will come as a much needed expansion. “We don’t have enough room for our juice…and the warehouse is jam packed,” said Williams He hopes that the deal will close by the end of March 2011 and expects that outfitting the new facility will take one calendar year. GMB does not want to disrupt business, so the company’s current operations will stay online until the new facility is up and running. The Route 7 location will give the company better visibility, and among its many new additions, GMB hopes to open a visitor center. The new facility’s ample space will provide GMB with many new opportunities to innovate and expand. “It gives us the flexibility to have everything self-contained in one location,” said Williams. “A world class facility is our goal.”

A small business flourishes By Hannah Mueller As Carleton Yoder pours fresh milk a cheese vat by substituting a commissary into a cream separator at his Champlain soup kettle with a welded top. Valley Creamery in the Kennedy Brothers But when it comes to the ingredients, Factory Marketplace in Vergennes, he is Yoder doesn’t skimp. Journey’s Hope Farm participating in a long tradition. Addison in Bridport provides all of the creamery’s County dairy farmers delivered their milk to organic milk. the same building 100 years ago, and their “The whole product is from this county,” cheese and milk would make their way on he said. the nearby railroad as far as New York City. He choose to go organic for the point of Yoder brought difference from other cheesemaking back to and because “We don’t subscribe creameries, the site in 2003. Before he sees it as the healthier, that, he worked making to the ‘if you don’t more traditional way to hard cider for the grow, you die’ phifarm and eat. The value American Hard Cider of tradition shows in company in Middlebury, losophy.” their signature product, now called Green — Carleton Yoder Old Fashioned Cream Mountain Beverage. Cheese—“not like Just last year, his wife, Philly at all.” Moira Cook, joined him Most of the Cream at the Creamery. Cheesemaking, she said Cheese and their Triple Crown Cheese recently, “is about growing a small family travels of out Vermont, but Champlain business that’s sustainable and something Valley Creamery products also make an we can be proud of.” appearance at the Starry Night Café in “We don’t subscribe to the ‘if you don’t Ferrisburgh, Antidote in Vergennes, and grow, you die’ philosophy,” said Yoder. other local restaurants. Producing a relatively small amount of Since 2003, Yoder said support for his cheese—between 300 and 400 pounds per business in Addison County has been week—allows them to have control over “tremendous.” And he’s in good company every aspect of the business. Yoder has — his business is among the many already come a long way, considering that, springing up to make use of dairy, the as he puts it, “we started stripped-down county’s primary agricultural offering. capital-wise.” “There’s something to be said for taking Finding equipment was a creative a raw agricultural product and turning it process. Their cream separator is from into something by the end of the day,” he 1952, and Yoder saved about $12,000 on said.

“A world-class facility is our goal”

— Bret Williams

Happy fruit

A batch of homegrown tomatoes basks in the sun last summer. At left, Green Mountain Beverage Marketing Director Bridget Blacklock stands in front of oak barrels used for aging Woodchuck Hard Cider. Right, two newly installed juice tanks tower against the winter sky. Independent photos/Andrew Stein

Photo courtesy Jessie Raymond

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Addison County Guide to Local Food and Farms 2011  

The Addison County Relocalization Network and the Addison Independent present our second annual Guide to Local Food and Farms, featuring a p...

Addison County Guide to Local Food and Farms 2011  

The Addison County Relocalization Network and the Addison Independent present our second annual Guide to Local Food and Farms, featuring a p...