After two years of planning, months of construction and one change in location, Bold Rock Hard Cider is ready to begin production in Mills River, just a few miles from the big Sierra Nevada brewery. Bold Rock has completed renovations of a 22,000-square-foot building at 72 School House Road in Mills River, installed equipment and received its federal permit, company founder John Washburn said. Cider making could begin by this weekend, with the first completed batch in about three weeks, Washburn said.
A public tasting room that includes a deck has not yet opened, but Bold Rock might be welcoming visitors in a few weeks, general manager Frank Merritt said. That venue will offer Bold Rock ciders on draft and the plan is to include food trucks and occasional live music, he said. The cider maker has 10 workers on the job now, but that will double to 20 by the end of November and by summer of 2016 the work force will reach 25-30, he said.
Bold Rock, which also operates a cidery in Nellyford, Virginia, already has a presence in local grocery stores and on tap in Western North Carolina. To expand, Washburn took aim on WNC and its renowned apple-growing country. The company initially bought a 10-acre site in Mills River, but shifted gears and moved ahead in an existing building. Originally, plans called for a June opening, but there was a delay in receiving and installing tanks, Washburn said. “It’s been a long way for us, and it’s been frustrating, but we are 100 percent done,” he said. “The apple crop was very successful this year, and everything is ready to go.” Bold Rock is sold in both Carolinas, Tennessee, Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania.