Sometimes living out of the hustle and bustle of the big smoke has its perks. Like when there is a weekend festival celebrating cider right at your doorstep!
Kellybrook Winery has been producing its own apple cider for nearly 30 years. To celebrate their product, each year the winery, based in Wonga Park, holds a two-day festival, where visitors can taste the fruits of their labour (literally). This year marked the 28th year for the event, held on April 30 and May 1, and it’s fair to say it is not slowing down!
Long before its big resurgence in recent years, Kellybrook was making its very own drop under the name Kellybrothers Cider.
Initially beginning with a sparkling cider; the Kelly Brothers approached their cider the same way a sparkling wine from their range would be made, but with apples instead of grapes.
Kellybrook still sell this original version today, and while it seems like an acquired taste at first, it does have a very elegant, refined palate. Staff from Kellybrook’s cellar door recommend it as a great alternative to a sparkling wine (it even comes in a corked bottle like the grape variety!), and it’s the perfect pairing with Asian cuisine.
In recent years however, Kelly Brothers have adapted their work, and now sell apple and pear ciders that are what most cider drinkers would be accustomed to, and at this year’s festival they were also selling a mulled cider, and another version called Smitten Cider which was much more clean and crisp.
For the real apple lovers there was even Scrumpy cider on sale; an old-fashioned alcoholic drink that is more like a juice. The ‘scrumpy’ cider is not for the faint hearted, as it is much more thick and somewhat harder to consume in large quantities. But, for those that like a challenge, Kellybrook was selling it in 4-litre cartons! Now that’s our kind of festival!
There were also boutique beers from their Riders Brew Co. bootleg on offer for those that needed a little something o cut the sweetness of cider. Free wine and cider tastings were on offer in the Kellybrook cellar door; with friendly staff that knew the ins and outs of their products, it sure made the $20 entry fee worthwhile!
There was drink stations dotted around the venue, which really felt like a laid back garden party more so than a structured event – in the best possible way. One of the drink spots was using what’s called a ‘jockey box’ as a way to serve the cider on tap. It was an esky filled with ice, which the cider taps are hooked up to in order to keep it icy cold.
With plenty of food trucks to line the stomach, and local bands playing under the big Oak Tree, the Kellybrook Yarra Valley Cider Festival was a great day out, especially for those that made the most of the late April surge of sunshine on Saturday; cracking some ciders in 25 degree sunshine – what more could you want?! The rays were a little scarcer on Sunday, but we warmed ourselves up with a few drinks!
If you missed the event this year, it is annual so will return around the same time in 2017, but if you do find yourself out near the Valley one weekend afternoon, be sure to pop into Kellybrook’s Cellar Door for a taste of what they have to offer.