About Maiden Rock Apples & Winery/Cidery
Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery
“Presenting a unique collection of gluten-free hard ciders and wines
– produced from fresh local fruit –
Flavored by Wisconsin”.
Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery
Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery is a family-owned business in western Wisconsin, near the quaint village of Stockholm. It began as an 80-acre farm purchased in 1998. The first apple orchards were established in 2000 – providing agricultural tourism activities as well as fruit. By 2008, the business had received all of the necessary permits and licenses to be able to operate as a commercial wine and cider manufacturing facility. In addition to wine and cider, Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery offered a portfolio of value-added products including, jams, jellies, and preserves as well as apple décor, housewares, and other apple-related products.
The mission of Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery is to serve customers with a creative collection of high-quality products and experiences that result in lasting memories. They choose to be distinguished – not by their size, fanciness of their equipment, number of people they employ, or number of ciders and wines they make – but by the positive impact they have on their customers. When distributors or other business partners have pointed out that they could use cheaper ingredients to reduce their costs and become more price competitive, the business has pushed back. They want to create, produce, and purvey exceptional products and experiences for which they can feel proud. This artisanal approach has resulted in their winning awards in international competitions – sometimes out-competing other cideries and wineries that may be much bigger, have more sophisticated equipment, and a much broader distribution.
Gluten-Free Ciders & Wines from Fresh Local Fruit.
The marketing positioning of Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery was determined to be:
Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery – “Presenting a unique collection of premium hard ciders and wines – produced from fresh, local fruit – flavored by Wisconsin”. The underlined words reflect our focus and defines who we are.
When Herdie is asked how he got into making award-winning products, his usual answer is that it started as a hobby. This is partly true, in that he started as a homebrewer with the purchase of a wine starter kit around 2002. Several years before then, however, Herdie and his wife Carol Wiersma had purchased an 80-acre farm outside the village of Stockholm, Wisconsin, to establish their apple orchard, Maiden Rock Apples.
Maiden Rock Apples
The apple varieties Herdie and Carol planted included a number that are more often grown in southwestern England and were suitable for the production of hard cider and wine. So, from the beginning of their farming venture, Herdie and Carol planned to produce products made from fermented apple juice as well as fresh fruit, preserves, and baked goods.
Being new to agriculture required them to get up to speed quickly on what they needed to know to be successful. Their business plan focused around agricultural tourism, so they designed the orchard to make it easy for people to pick their own apples, picnic, enjoy wagon rides and other outdoor fun. Doing what Herdie calls “going to apple school”, he joined both the Wisconsin and Minnesota apple growers associations and gathered knowledge from attending field days and conferences and – most importantly – talking with other growers and getting consultation from UW Extension experts. Subsequently he was voted onto the board of directors for the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association (WAGA) and served as president. Carol joined the Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association (WATA), was voted onto the board, and also served as its president.
On the way to developing the winery and cidery, Herdie began producing fresh-pressed unpasteurized non-alcoholic cider – using hard cider techniques. The result was award winning products for several years, in the state-wide Apple Cider Contest, sponsored by WAGA.
With their trees bearing fruit and a growing customer base, they were ready to take the next steps to establish their winery and cidery. While Maiden Rock Apples was positioned as an award-winning cider orchard that provides “Tasty Experience with Country Charm”, Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery was positioned as “Presenting a unique collection of premium hard ciders and wines – produced from fresh local fruit – flavored by Wisconsin”.
Special Events offered by Maiden Rock Apples have included Pumpkin Contests with Pepin 4-H, Barn Dancing, and Fields of Terror – a Halloween-themed event where Herdie used his psychology knowledge to instill fear and scare the begeevers out of some folks. Another special event -- Wassailing of the Apple Trees -- morphed into a full-fledged Medieval Feast, with costumed staff and guests, holiday foods and drinks befitting the times – including a roast pig with a Maiden Rock apple in its mouth! The event was theatrical, in all respects!