Fresh from the Atlanta apple orchard in Moorooduc, Ten Sixty One cider is crafted from apple “rejects” (cosmetically unfit for the supermarket, but perfectly tasty) — straight from the farm, direct to the cidery.
“When I was younger, Dad made us stay in school — he didn't want this lifestyle for us,” Ten Sixty One’s Bianca Paganoni says.
“He wanted us to go and do more with our lives because it's hard working on the farm, super hard. And there’s not a lot of money in it. But I think when you’ve grown up around it, it’s almost inbuilt in you.”
The idea to segway from apple farmer to cider producer came to her while sitting at a bar in Sri Lanka.
“I’d worked in pubs since I was 18 and always liked the social aspect of it. I thought, ‘how can I combine the two things that I know?' Making cider made sense,” she said.
Three years and plenty of trial, error, experiments and an explosion or two later, and a craft cider business was born.
“It was super daunting at the start,” Bianca says. “Buying equipment and getting the whole brand off the ground. (Making cider) is a massive grey area. You just do what you want and figure out how to change it and make it my own.
“My first batch exploded. I was sitting in the office down the road and I could just hear this ‘bang bang bang’ and thought ‘what is going on?’. All the tops were flying off, and the bottles were smashing.”
"It’s like doing an apprenticeship, but there’s no one teaching you."
Not to mention the solo early morning tastings.
“When you’re learning how to make cider, you have to taste it; but raw cider at 8am, it’s not okay,” she laughs.
A labour of love, literally, Bianca still works at the family orchard with her brother, while managing the craft cider business “on the side”. Her days start at 5am and finish at sundown.
We've had the orchard since the 50s," she says. “The farm needs me — Ten Sixty One wouldn’t exist without it.
“And we’re fortunate on the Peninsula because people care where their products come from. When you buy our cider, you’re directly helping a farmer and orchards stay in business.”
Mid chat, we're interrupted by an elderly couple driving up to the apple shed to pick up their weekly crate.
“I wish I had photos of all the people in their 80s and 90s that still come to pick up their 15kg of apples each week — fit as a fiddle,” Bianca says.
“After you've had an apple straight from the tree, you’ll never appreciate a supermarket apple again.”