Herdie Baisden of Maiden Rock Winery & Cidery is often asked how he got into making these products, and his usual answer is that it started as a hobby. This is partly true, in that he started as a homebrewer with the purchase of a wine starter kit around 2002. Several years before then, however, Herdie and his wife Carol Wiersma had purchased an 80-acre farm outside the village of Stockholm, Wisconsin, to establish an apple orchard. The apple varieties they planted included a number that are more often grown in southwestern England and were suitable for the production of hard cider and wine. So, from the beginning of their farming venture, Herdie and Carol planned to produce products made from fermented apple juice as well as fresh fruit, preserves, and baked goods.
Being new to agriculture required them to get up to speed quickly on what they needed to know to be successful. They crafted a business plan which focused around agricultural tourism and designed the orchard to make it easy for people to pick their own apples. Doing what Herdie calls "going to apple school", he joined both the Wisconsin and Minnesota apple growers associations and gathered knowledge from attending field days and conferences and most importantly talking with other growers and getting consultation from UW Extension experts. Subsequently he was voted onto the board of the Wisconsin Apple Growers Association and served as president. Carol joined the Wisconsin Agricultural Tourism Association, was voted onto the board, and also served as its president.
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