‘I realised that a hobby could become a passion and a means of subsistence’
Another Round: Stonewell Cider founders Daniel Emerson and his wife, Géraldine
Stonewell: Daniel Emerson and his wife, Géraldine
Stonewell Cider was set up by Daniel Emerson and his French wife Géraldine in 2009. “My family had always made cider from our small orchard on the farm in Nohoval, Co Cork, but I realised that a hobby could become a passion and a means of subsistence,” says Emerson. Up to that point, he had worked in the advertising and media sector, flying in and out of Cork every week.
They work with a handful of farmers in Laois, Tipperary and Waterford who are able to provide them with the varieties and quality required. Emerson is excited about the domestic market; “It is incredibly dynamic at the moment,” he says. “This is a wonderful time to be a cider consumer, with a broader choice available than there has been for decades. Fifteen years ago, there was one industrial producer; now there are three heavy hitters, but in addition, we now have 10-plus micro producers and counting.”
Stonewell has gained a reputation for being one of the most innovative producers. Its unique award-winning Tawny, a medium-dry rich-aged cider with 15% alcohol, has been very successful here and abroad. Nohoval Apple Wine, a project dear to Géraldine, who hails from a wine family in the Loire Valley, is made in small quantities each year.
This summer, it released an alcohol-free “cider”, which has outperformed all expectations. Stonewell 0% is not just apple juice. “We effectively make and unmake the cider,” says Emerson. Stonewell makes a standard dry cider and then removes the alcohol by reverse osmosis. A small amount of unfermented apple juice from specific high-acid and tannic varieties is added to bring sweetness and depth. It doesn’t taste quite like cider, but it is a lot more interesting than most plain apple juice.