from Snakes & Ladders, Australia
Why Snakes and Ladders?
Because Sally loves to experiment! The Plunkett family have been growing fruit in the Goulburn Valley for 120 years and Sally began making fruit wine after being inspired by the fruit wines she tried when travelling in Europe. She then branched out into cider and Snakes and Ladders was born. The cider is light and bright and easy to drink on its own or with food. Always experimenting and tweaking, there is plenty more to come from Sally so have a taste and keep your eye out for the next cider from Snakes and Ladders.
Listen on the go - Interview with Sally Plunkett
Nathaniel: Can you tell us a little bit about your background, then?
Sally: I went to uni. I did agricultural science at uni, and then I went on to do a PhD in dairy cow nutrition, and then I started to get a bit interested in fruit wines and ciders after going backpacking in Europe. So, I just started testing out a few initial ferments, initial brews, and I got more and more interested in it over time. And then I ended up doing it fulltime eventually. So, I’ve always been interested in research and trying out new things and, yeah, that’s where the fruit wines and the ciders came from, initially. So, I’ve been making fruit wines for about 10 years, and it was just a natural progression to move on into the cider, especially as there was this growing interest in cider as well. So, yeah, just kind of a natural evolution.
Nathaniel: So, you’re a doctor?
Sally: I am, yes. So, I’ve got the PhD in the dairy nutrition research area, and then I moved over to making wines and ciders a few years after that. Yeah, and following the trip. It’s really the trip overseas and going to Europe and seeing how popular fruit wines were over there that got me really thinking about it in the first place, because at the time, 10 years ago, it was very uncommon to have fruit wines in Australia. There were not many at all, and there were only a couple of ciders, of the big brands of cider. Yeah, it was very unusual to ferment fruit back then, so that was all pretty interesting. And that sort of got me interested and got me hooked early on, so that’s where it all started.
Nathaniel: Right. And where was it in Europe that you went to that spiked your interest?
Sally: Well, there was quite a bit in the UK, but also in Germany. There was a great variety of different fruit wines and fruit-based beverages. So, yeah, it really opened my eyes up to the possibilities and the potential, when I was in Germany. And there was a little bit in France, but I guess it was more Germany that had the great variety of different drinks available, and there was that great acceptance of them, as well. It was much more common drink over there. So, I just thought well if they’re doing it over there it just to make sort of sense for us to try it in the Goulburn Valley. I thought it was a great thing to bring back here and try and develop some sort of industry around fruit wines and fruit ciders in the Goulburn Valley because we grow so much fruit and so much really good fruit that it seemed like a really good way to use some of the fruit in a different way, from the area.
Nathaniel: And so, what is different or unique about what you’re doing, and the way that you’re operating in the cider market?
Sally: I approach my cider making from quite a creative angle, I guess. That’s what I’m interested in and that’s what drives me, creating new ways to use the fruit. And so, I’m always working on different wines and different combinations of fruit and different ciders. Just always trying to evolve what I’m doing and trying to do something a bit different. I don’t like to just stand still with what I’m making; I like to do new things and I think probably that’s a little bit different to a lot of people, because I’m just coming at it from that angle of creativity. It’s just a genuine interest for me and a genuine passion. Not so much a money-making thing for me, although it needs to be a viable business and it needs to progress in that way, but certainly, for me, the emphasis is on trying to make the absolute best-quality cider and the most enjoyable drink possible.
Nathaniel: Okay. And that kind of leads me to my next question, which is how would you recommend someone does enjoy your cider?
Sally: Well, it can be enjoyed on its own; it’s just a light, tangy, refreshing cider. I’ve got a lot of Granny Smith apple in there, so it’s got that real tangy, green apple buzz to it, I guess. So, it’s really enjoyable on its own, but you can also pair it with food: fish, Asian-style cuisine it goes well with.
Nathaniel: And what’s next for you and Snakes and Ladders? What does the future hold?
Sally: Probably more of the same. So, I’m always experimenting with different blends, different fruits, and I’ve got a couple of other – two more ciders on the horizon, and they’re going to be a combination of fruits that we grow on our orchard, because everything I make I use fruits that we grow on our own orchards. So, I’ll be making a couple more ciders out of our own fruits. Yeah. And also the wine. I’m always working on wine and other fruit beverages as well.
Nathaniel: Yeah. All right, sounds good.
Sally: More experimenting.