We’re sitting down with Paul Vander-Heide of Vandermill Cider out of Michigan. I first met Paul back when he was a tiny little cider mill in Spring Lake, personally loading a few kegs into his van and driving them to Chicago. He’s always been one step ahead of the cider wave that took off like a shot—and is currently hitting a bit of a plateau—in the U.S., depending on what kind of producer you are. But the reason he's succeeding is because of his foresight, willingness to adapt, opportunistic approach and, frankly, his ability to give the people what they want even as he sets his sights on a brighter future for the category.
In the Midwest, I don’t think there’s a cider company that has opened more doors than Vandermill. And the growth of his company is an indication that his days ahead are even more ambitious. He’s moved production from Spring Lake to Grand Rapids in a beautiful new facility with a tasting room and a kitchen. And there’s a ton of room in there to grow.
So I’m finally sitting down with Paul on what seems like the precipice of his success, but being the pragmatist that he is, he knows that his competition is getting fierce, and the entire category needs room to grow before cider makers start turning on each other.
He’s a great ambassador for cider, and I’m excited to share this conversation with you. Even if I was a little hungover from a bawdy evening at Sovengaard the night before. (I think it was that last Orval or maybe the Rosé that got me.) So pardon any sluggishness in my brain on this one.