Meet the Finalists - Gurneys Cidery
Gurneys Cider is a family run business based in Foster, South Gippsland.
Bill and Lorraine Gurnett, together with sons Tom and James all take an active role in the business while employing a few seasonal staff to assist with the orchard, production, and packaging.
Starting in the early 2000’s the family started to produce small volumes of cider. Son, Tom spent a year in England learning the craft of making cider and the family have built a close relationship with the Thatcher family from England who produce one of the country’s leading brands, that is also available here in Australia.
Since opening cellar door in 2018, the Gurnett family has seen production increase from 3,000 litres to an expected 25,000 litres this year.
Cider is still very much a popular summer drink in Australia, and the market is growing rapidly.
Gurney’s has positioned themselves as a premium product for the discerning cider drinker with their “Proper Dry” brand. They have extensive growth and innovation plans in place, projecting that in the next 3 - 5 years, they will be producing between 100-200,000 litres per year.
They are also working on other products to expand the range and begin to position themselves for the “winter market”. These plans include building a new processing facility, and more immediately upgrading of bottling capacity, as well as the construction of an underground cellar.
They work very closely with the community and use a local produce at their cellar door.
The family share tasks according to their skills. For example, Tom draws on his cider making and engineering skills, his parents apply the knowledge gained from their technical backgrounds. Bill also takes care of OH&S.
With transport logistics being the ever-present challenge for Gippsland producers, they are working with other businesses and creators to use load sharing to help with more cost effective and wider distribution methods and opportunities.
Their marketing strategy has been all about building local awareness and expanding through social media. The strategy is working for them as demand remains strong and outstrips supply.
They are very familiar with the cider market and analyse data regularly.
The Gurnett family are hoping to encourage more local farmers to grow apples – they currently use around 27 varieties to make their cider.
Their new cellar is an exciting and innovative project.
Drawing on Tom’s engineering skills and network of contacts Gurney’s were able to secure at a very competitive price, a mine conveyor tunnel (30m long x 10m high) at a fraction of the cost.
The tunnel had been fabricated for the Hazelwood Mine but as it wasn’t required due to the closure of the mine, it would have been sent to land fill.
Gurneys Cidery is in a position where they can construct the cellar at a similar cost as building refrigerated storage. In this cellar, the cider will be kept at a constant temperature, meaning the product will be held in ideal conditions.
This also means Gurney’s will be reducing their carbon footprint.
As finalists in the Excellence in Innovation Award sponsored by National Australia Bank, and Excellence in Food and Drink Manufacturing in a business of less than 10 employees sponsored by Latrobe City Council, the judges were clearly impressed with what has been achieved to date.
They described it as a very good business that know their market and has sound technical capability. They have strong plans win place for growth and have built very strong relationships with the local community, other producers and working with others in the region to optimise distribution.
They commended the family for not being afraid to be different and putting a lot of effort into their brand.
It is early days as far as scale goes but they have practices and policies in place for their growth and understand that as the business expands, they will need to increase and up skill their work force.
Winners will be announced on this website on Friday November 20 at 6pm.