Winemaker makes switch to cider
Steve Dorman After growing up on a farm in South Australia’s Barossa Valley and doing work experience at the world-renowned Henschke Winery, Steve Dorman was destined to forge a career in wine. That was until he transferred his learnings to making cider – an industry where he now leads the way.
In 2010 Steve and business partner Tobias Kline launched the Hills Cider Company which is the largest privately-owned cider company in the country. Steve was among the first students to study oenology and viticulture at the University of Adelaide’s Waite campus after the course was transferred from Roseworthy.
He and his classmates enjoyed the benefit of Waite’s new state-of-the-art facilities, a scaled winery and vineyards. Steve says it was a privilege to be among the first to use the site and meet others from around the globe who had been attracted to study the world-renowned degree.
“It’s so highly recognised that you can walk into any wine region in the world and tell them you’ve got a University of Adelaide degree and they welcome you with open arms,” he says.
After graduating, Steve did vintages in Australia and Italy, returning to manage the Australasian wine and beverage division for Orica before moving into the wine trading business. It was during a trip to Europe that he experimented with fruit wine and witnessed the ‘cider explosion’.
He returned to Adelaide to discover a distinct lack of local quality ciders and set about making the real product from 100 per cent fresh Adelaide Hills apples. Today the Hills Cider Company not only produces multi-award winning ciders but has contributed to the rejuvenation of many local orchards.
“Growing up on a farm, I’ve seen the perils of farming with the good and the bad years so being able to now support a whole industry in the Adelaide Hills is very rewarding,” he says.
“In the last 12 months we’ve had three growers come back to orchards they walked away from because they hadn’t thought it was commercially viable.”
Steve now buys 15 per cent of all fruit grown in the Hills, has 13 sales staff and indirectly employs around 65 people. His products are sold all over the world, including the UK, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Japan.
Steve is so committed to the ‘support local, drink local’ ethos that he’s joining forces with the Adelaide Hill’s Distillery and Mismatch Brewing on a new Adelaide Hills beverage hub (see Gin maker shows winning spirit).
Story by Genevieve Sanchez