A passion for apples and cider
Sunshine Coast Cider was born out of generation-long love for apples and the desire to create Queensland’s first real Sparkling Cider.
Cider maker Martin grew up on the family farm in Switzerland where he learned all about apple farming, flavours, varieties and of course Cider making. From his father to his great-great-grandfather, they had always made Farmhouse Cider in big barrels underneath the house, making Martin a fifth generation Cidermaker.
Martin’s ancestors have been heavily involved in the apple and Cider business since 1384: The family name ‘Rellstab’ derives from the Swiss word for a fruit milling stick which is also depicted in the family’s coat of arms.
Martin had been experimenting with sparkling Cider in the years he was running the family farm in Switzerland. The beautiful pearling Cider was delicious and refreshing, and always enjoyed at family gatherings and festivities.
Our logo and the story of William Tell
Our logo is a symbol for the sun with an apple is at its centre, just as the apple is at the heart and centre of our business. The sun rays are small crossbow arrows which link to our Swiss heritage and the famous tale of William Tell. His name stands for freedom and independence as well as using will power and common sense in your life. In short, the story goes like this:
“The newly appointed Austrian reeve Albrecht Gessler had hung up his hat on top of a pole for all people to bow to, but William Tell publicly refused to do so. He and his son were arrested and faced a cruel punishment – they were either both to be executed, or William had to shoot an apple off his son’s head using his crossbow. He succeeded, but further complications lead to the assassination of Gessler by William Tell. This act sparked a rebellion which led to the formation of the Old Swiss Confederacy”.
In 2017 Martin and his wife Regine built a tiny Cidery in Woombye to produce Queensland’s only Méthode Traditionnelle or ‘Champagne-style’ Sparkling Cider. To become a viable business, we had to bridge the 18 months that it takes for our Brut+ Sparkling Cider to be ready for sale. So we fermented a batch of Granite Belt apples and produced our first two products: a ‘Dry & Still’ and a ‘Bottle Fermented’ Cider.
Two dry products called for another Cider in the off-dry range, so we invested in carbonation and pasteurisation equipment to be able to produce our bestseller, ‘Sunshine Cider’. It didn’t take long until we were asked to make this Cider available in kegs.
A call from one of our farmers to ask if we could use some pears produced our fourth much-loved product: Cloudy Perry.
In early 2018, Sunshine Coast Cider was selected by the Innovation Centre Sunshine Coast in collaboration with the Food and Agribusiness Network (FAN) to participate in a three month food business accelerator program called ‘Grow Coastal’. Being selected as one of the 12 most promising new food businesses on the Coast was a thrill. The course provided not only invaluable business knowledge but also started new collaborations and lasting friendships with a lot of amazing people around the Sunshine Coast.
After 18 months in the making, our Brut+ Sparkling Cider was ready to be hand-finished, and we entered it – though still very young – into the Australian Cider Award. The judges rewarded our efforts with a bronze medal.
Towards the end of 2018, it became more and more apparent that our lovely little Cidery in Woombye was getting too small. From early 2019 on we started looking around for a new place and finally found our current location in Kunda Park. A lot of changes and improvements to the building were made, and we juggled Cider making and construction work the best we could. By the end of July we were finally back on track and able to get rolling again. The new facility also allowed for a tasting room where guests could drop in for a glass of our Brut+ Sparkling or a tasting paddle and have a chat about all things Cider.
The new facility with higher production capacity enabled us to start contract Cider making for Felons Brewing Co in Brisbane. The Queensland Performing Arts Centre (QPAC) in Brisbane chose our Cider for their bars and restaurants and we managed to have our Cider available at the Sunshine Coast International Airport.
The drought and bushfires have had a lasting impact on the farmers in the Stanthorpe region. We wanted to help, so we donated part of our festival sales to effected farmers. Every little bit counts. But we wanted to do more and came up with our very own version of the ‘1% for our planet’ pledge.
We assume most people would like to put an end to 2020. But it taught us a lot, re-set what we took for granted, and decelerated our lives.
COVID lockdown happened right in the middle of our apple harvest season. With our new facility ready to roll, we were about to fill our tanks to the brim with fresh apple juice. Farmers were again doing it tough because their fruit had been hail damaged and needed to be juiced quickly. Suddenly all our customers had to close their doors, and no one knew what was going to happen. With a heavy heart we stopped buying apples. Our business went from full-steam ahead to a grinding halt, like so many others.
With restaurant and bars opening up again, demand for our Cider bounced back, and we are facing another challenge for our Cider production: the supply of Queensland apples is ceasing. This is a direct impact of recent droughts and bush fires.
Last but not least, we are grateful that so many businesses on the Sunshine Coast survived COVID and switched to locally made products. It once again shows us in what a supportive community we live!