The Sampson Flat fires caused the loss of their sheds and vineyards, but with the help of the community, Kersbrook Hill owner Paul Clark has managed to rebuild the estate and continue to produce small-batch wines and basket-pressed cider.
“The cider wasn’t affected by the Sampson Flat fires, but it is part of the motivation for making it,” Clark says.
“There are peaks and troughs in the wine industry and our equipment sits idle for six or seven months of the year.
“Our winery is located in an apple and pear cold store and we’re constantly surrounded by apples.
“Fortunately, a friend of mine who bought the old Forreston School found a box of old books in the ceiling. Among them was a 1898 book called Cooling Cups and other Dainty Drinks that contained a recipe for traditional apple cider that gave me the idea to start making use of some of the locally produced apples and put our winemaking equipment to more regular use.”
That was four years ago, and Clark has been making a small batch of cider each month since.
“We weren’t the first to make apple cider in the Adelaide Hills, but we were probably reasonably early.
“We use almost exclusively Granny Smith apples because they are higher in acid and quite tart. When you ferment them they become quite appley in flavour, compared to normal apple juice, which doesn’t really taste like an apple. Sometimes we use a bit of Pink Lady for a little sweetness.”
Clark prefers to basket press the apples, which he says is a little more laborious than using a roller press, but is worth the extra time for the superior flavour it produces.
“We crush about one tonne of apples at a time, which makes about 700 litres of cider,” he says.
“We don’t add flavourings or colourings; we only make minor modifications to keep the alcohol concise.”
Cider production at Kersbrook Hill also allows Clark to further age his wines before release.
“Another motivator behind the cider making was being able to produce something relatively quickly, so we can hang on to our wines a bit longer than most.
“Our current release red is 2012 Cabernet and 2012 Shiraz. We will bottle the 2013 reds next year. The cider works hand-in-hand with the wines really well.”
Kersbrook Hill Apple Cider is available for tasting at the cellar door and for retail sale at most independent bottle shops.
Help our journalists uncover the facts
In times like these InDaily provides valuable, local independent journalism in South Australia. As a news organisation it offers an alternative to The Advertiser, a different voice and a closer look at what is happening in our city and state for free. Any contribution to help fund our work is appreciated. Please click below to donate to InDaily.