Sneak Peek at New Woodchuck Cider Facility

Published 08/06 2014 05:45PM

Updated 08/06 2014 06:28PM

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - After more than a year of construction, Woodchuck Hard Cider opened its new Middlebury cidery to the public. The facility cost a whopping 34 million-dollars, but Woodchuck says it's worth it.

"We're investing in Vermont being at the forefront of the cider industry," Vermont Hard Cider President and CEO Dan Rowell said.

Senator Patrick Leahy agrees, adding it bolsters the local economy.

"Jobs are created in Vermont, not just in this, but in building this, what you have here," he said.

It also doubles the company's capacity--to some 10-million cases a year.

"Six hundred bottles per minute is what the line runs, its a state of the art line," Rowell says.

Beyond the technology, company officials are most excited about the new tasting room, and public tours.

"It's being able to share our passion for cider with the fans," Rowell said.

The tasting room, which has high ceilings and exposed wooden beams, will have classic cider favorites, and new flavors too.

"We will test those here before we bring them out to market," Rowell noted.

Some ten thousand people are expected in Middlebury for an opening celebration for the new facility on August 23, but that's just the beginning of what may be a new steady, stream of visitors into Addison County.

Woodchuck is already a draw for the area, but locals expect the numbers to balloon with the new attractions.

"We really think its going to multiply by five or ten times," Addison County Chamber of Commerce President Andy Mayer said.

Not only that, but the chamber of commerce says the cidery will complement other businesses in the area.

"It fits into what we have here, which are businesses that rely on the natural products that are here," Mayer added.

Senator Leahy, and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, recently introduced the CIDER Act, an effort to update the federal definition of hard cider. It would also align US and European cider standards, a move local companies like Woodchuck say could make it easier to sell their product outside the US.

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