Cider Corner: These Changes Have Helped Blake’s & Bryant’s Both Adapt Business Plans

​Despite the pandemic, growth​ is still happening for some cideries. Michigan’s Blake’s Hard Cider has seen 65% YTD growth over 2019 so far this year and doing some things that were planned for the future happening a bit quicker contributed to some of those gains, said spokeswoman Heather Hunt.

The cidery, which now reaches 19 states, began online shipping in early April and Hunt said that practice will continue thru Vino Shipper

“It was always slated to happen,” Hunt said. “The stay-at-home orders just accelerated in adding it.”

The timing of online shipping also coincided with a launch of a new series of ciders, branded the Kinder cider series, where proceeds go to a charity. In that space, Blake’s has launched Rainbow Seeker, a Pineapple/Sage cider that helps support the LGBT National Hotline.

Curbside delivery is something we implemented and the cidery converted to hand sanitizer, not just for hospitals but local pickup,” Hunt said. The cidery recently ran a promotion for teachers and schools and handed out a gallon to any teaching staff member. Hunt said there was lots of traction as more than 1,600 gallons were given out to the local community near its home base of Armada, Michigan.

Bryant’s Cider​ has​ ​also ​adopted shipping​, but owner and Cidermaster Jerry Thornton believes that education is needed in the cider market to define the niches.

​”​The cider evolution will take time and lots of education​,” he told Brewer​​, added that the Roseland, Virginia cidery prefer​s to try and get ​consumers through the doors, ​”​socially distanced of course​,” he said.​

On-site for Blake’s has changed a bit as well.

The original Armada location is a full-service farm restaurant, so Blake’s added more seating areas while increasing small events for tastings with dinner.

“It’s a great place for families to come out ​and ​still be socially distant,” Hunt said.

Aside from the cider, the farm’s business has been up as well, with fall-like numbers happening before the fall.

Blake’s Lavender Fest has been reimagined as well. Normally a large event with lots of tickets sold, Blake’s switched to more of a farmer’s market look so that people can social distance yet be involved.

“We are looking for lots of things to bring people to the farm, which helps [cider] sales,” Hunt said.

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