These Strengths are What Schuurman Built Upon for Winchester Ciderworks

This is a part of a continuing series of Q&As with members of the cider community from across the US. Brewer Magazine will share business and personal insights from Cidermakers, Owners, Managers, Sales Directors, QCQA and others each week to help you get to know each other better in the industry and learn more to better develop your own brand.

Stephen Schuurman, Owner and Cider maker​, Winchester Ciderworks​ — Winchester​, Virginia

BREWER: How have recent challenges in your position helped make you better? What were those “pain points” and how did you solve or adjust to the issue?
SCHUURMAN: We have just moved to a bigger premise in the same county and the challenges of getting new permits, zoning challenges, change of use, new licensing shows what an overregulated industry we are and that the wheels of local government turn slowly and not always in a helpful way.

BREWER: What has been your cidery’s most recent accomplishment and how is it going to improve your business going forward?
SCHUURMAN: Since employing a dedicated sales team, with a national accounts manager as well, our sales have gone from strength to strength. We are also in the midst of the buildout of our new tasting room/restaurant in downtown Winchester. At a time when investments in sales staff have been lessening, we have added to ours in order to push the word to as many consumers as possible. We are also in the final stages of shooting a commercial to air on TV and streaming channels.

BREWER: How did you start in the industry and why do you still want to be a part of it?
SCHUURMAN: After moving from the UK for my former job, I saw the opportunity back in 2012, to make some drier ciders which I was used to drinking back in my homeland. I have continued to do so in our 12 years of operation. Back then there were very few choices outside the sweet, mainstream ciders. We wanted to buck the trend and are still trying to do so.

BREWER: What are you sippin’ on right now from your cidery that you really enjoy?
SCHUURMAN: For warmer weather it is our Dandy Shandy. Naturally fermented and aged six months, before blending with some honey and lemon. It makes the perfect hot-weather cider.

BREWER: Be it in styles, ingredients, production ideas or sales & marketing techniques, what are some recent industry trends that you’ve tried or are excited about trying this year?
SCHUURMAN: We are excited to start running our commercials on TV and streaming platforms. We want to make them amusing and to spread the word of our ciders, styles and company ethos to a wider audience.

READ MORE: Cider Corner: 4 Ways to Zero in On 2024

BREWER: What are some adaptations to business practices in the industry that you’ve observed over these past few years, and how has your cidery adjusted to stay competitive?
SCHUURMAN: We have noticed a cut down in distribution and a business model of bringing more people to a dedicated tasting room. We are contracting our distribution into a core set of states which we can give more time and attention to as well as building our first (of five hopefully) dedicated tasting room and restaurant in downtown locations in Virginia.

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