Sam Pendergast
from Faire Ferments, Australia

Why Faire Ferments?

How could you not love this story? This cider is the love child of a farmer trying to find a use for fruit that would end up as waste and a distiller looking to help out a community in need. The Goulburn Valley farming community was in major strife after the big food companies began to pull out from the area. Farms and families were at real risk and the picture wasn't good. Dario the farmer put up some pears to anyone who could make use of them and Sam stepped up and made his first cider. His experience in making fine booze shone through and the cider came up trumps. It is sophisticated and easy drinking and delicious with food or on its own. Two years later and the business is expanding and the Goulburn Valley farming community is benefitting. Cider making with a higher purpose, you have to love it. We do.

Listen on the go - Interview with Sam Pendergast

Nathaniel: Sam, can you tell us a bit about your background?

Sam: For sure. So, prior to starting Faire Ferments, I was making whisky at New World Whisky Distillery, and prior to that I made wine at Second Field Winery in South Australia. So, it’s kind of been a funny sort of journey across to cider, but I think my journey is kind of reflected a little bit in our flavour profile, you know? Like, I think I make cider for whisky and wine drinkers, as opposed to cider for RTD drinkers. So, yeah, I mean, that’s what I’ve been up to for the last maybe four or five years, and prior to that I was working in social research at Melbourne University and the state government. So, had a kind of fun old path towards Faire Ferments, but it’s been a good run and I’m happy where I am now.

Nathaniel: And so, what inspired you to make cider?

Sam: Probably the fact that we could make a world class product out of the Goulburn Valley, from fruit that was otherwise being wasted. When we started Faire Ferments, as I said, I was still at the whisky distillery, and our primary grower who’s Dario Polsoni, he came to the Goulburn Valley Food Cooperative, of which I was part at the time, and suggested that given the growers in the area were being paid less for their fruit than it costed to actually grow, he was willing to stump up ten ton of pears, if anyone had any ideas with what to do with them. And I, given I was in the industry, put my hand up and said; “Well, let’s have a crack at making a really spot-on cider,” and we did that. So, I guess the inspiration for me to do it has come through the cooperative and through a grower that thinks outside the box.

Nathaniel: That’s a great story. So, how would you recommend your cider be best enjoyed?

Sam: I think our cider is probably best enjoyed properly considered. Like, I figure we have put a lot of time into the back end of making our cider, so I would love to see it considered properly. So, probably put it into a glass and have a look at it, and drink it cold, but not too cold. And stick your nose in it, you know? There’s a lot more to our cider than just what you get on the palate. So, get your nose in there and see what you get on the bouquet, because that’s where a lot of its character lies.

Nathaniel: Sounds like a good recommendation. So, what’s different or unique about what you’re doing?

Sam: Well, what’s unique about what we’re doing? I suppose we’re unique in the sense that we’re primarily driven by innovation, and utilising an Australian resource in a world class manner, you know? So, I think while a lot of cider makers might be sort of driven by, say, their profit margin and bottom line and getting a decent cider out, we’re driven by the fact that we want to turn world class fruit into world class cider in an environment where that fruit has otherwise been not utilised to its full potential. So, I think there’s more to our product than a simple bubbly apple drink. There’s a social component to it, there’s an excellence component to it, and then, of course, there’s an enjoyment component to it. So, that’s sort of outside the bottle. Inside the bottle, as I said, we look to innovate and we look to set ourselves apart through opportunities that might arise through different fruit. So, we’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on some great Modi apples for our apple cider. Prior to that, we collaborated with an organic grower, to do a sort of one-off, beautiful organic cider out of the northern Goulburn Valley area. So, yeah, we’re able to really be flexible and really innovative, which is such a great position to be in, in this industry.

Nathaniel: Yeah, absolutely. And so, my last question: what does the future hold for you and Faire Ferments?

Sam: I think the future probably holds movement towards getting our own production facilities, further innovation in product. We’re moving towards distillation, and we’ve also done a lot of R&D around fruit varieties. So, we’ve worked with the Ripponlea National Trust Estate, looking to kind of work on new cider varieties that we can put into our orchard, and I guess increase the complexity of our offerings. So, that’s really exciting and something that we’ve got our eyes on in the future.

Nathaniel: Yeah, sounds great. We’re looking forward to it.

The Directors - Dam, Liz, Dario and the Orchard

The Directors - Dam, Liz, Dario and the Orchard

Sam with a pear

Sam with a pear

Call our team: 0439 606 263
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