Debbie Woodward’s sons were grown.
And their parents were now all alone.
But when the boys found cider
They were back beside her.
To start a business that was homegrown.
From a blue tractor that lost its brakes on a hill to a grandmother’s passion for crude limericks, the Kamloops residents behind the Privato Winery in Westsyde are venturing into a new craft beverage business inspired by family memories.
Woodward Cidery Co. is the first of its kind to bubble up in the Tournament Capital, opening its doors this past Wednesday at the longstanding winery at 5505 Westsyde Rd. to a crowd of dignitaries.
The entrepreneurs behind the business are Ben, Adam and Tim Woodward — the sons of Debbie and John Woodward, who have operated the winery side of the farm for the past eight years.
It was “a dream come true” to see her three sons show an interest in being back on the farm after having left home to pursue their own interests, Debbie Woodward told KTW.
“It’s really pulled us together as a family,” she said.
“We were a close family anyways, but now we’ve got this project to work on, so it’s a lot of fun, whether we’re bottling or labelling or mashing in the fall.
“We’re all working together now and it’s great.”
Her sons left Kamloops to become professional engineers and were working as project managers for construction outfits when they got the itch to start their own business.
“I missed working with my hands,” 29-year-old Adam Woodward said. “I also wanted to do something for myself that I could call my own.”
His brother Tim, 23, felt the same way and the two began brainstorming ideas for their own business, recruiting older brother Ben, 31, in the process.
The three siblings thought of joining their parents’ Privato Winery and helping them out, but they also wanted to build something from the ground up.
Adam’s girlfriend inadvertently gave them the idea. As she is celiac, her alcohol of choice was often cider, which she introduced to the brothers.
One night while drinking cider and brainstorming ideas, the apple hit them on the head.
“It just clicked,” Adam said.
A cidery made sense. The boys would be able to live the lifestyle they grew up with at their family farm, which contained much of what they needed to succeed — land to start an orchard and much of the equipment required to produce the product.
“Most importantly, we had mom and dad,” Adam said, noting his parents’ expertise.
The brothers researched the business and received plenty of help from other craft cideries in the area, including Left Field Cider.
“Cider in general, I think, is coming around. I like to describe it as following the craft beer trend,” Adam told KTW.
“The cider industry is also shooting up. I think it’s popular as people are becoming more sensitive to their allergies.
“Our cider’s totally gluten-free and people are looking for a healthier, more natural product that’s also low in sugar.”
At Privato, two acres of apple trees were planted and they remain tiny saplings for now.
While waiting on the trees to grow, the Woodward boys produced their first batch of cider this past fall from Okanagan apples.
Now three types of their ciders are ready for sale.
Blue Tractor is the driest of the bunch — named for the piece of machinery about which every family member has a story.
The raspberry-infused cider Send It gets its name from the brothers’ passion for outdoor activity.
The not-so-dry 5 Liner honours their grandmother, Anne Genge, who enjoys writing limericks about her family.
With a grin on her face, Genge had the crowd in stitches on Wednesday as she belted out some cheeky verse about her grandsons.
Woodward Cider will be sold at the Privato Winery and in some local liquor stores and restaurants.
The brothers plan to first serve the Kamloops market before branching out into other areas.
Adam said it’s great to come back home and start a new chapter at the farm.
“Mom and dad have done several different businesses here on the farm and we’re always changing and adapting to what’s new,” he said.
Kamloops Coun. — and Privato neighbour — Dieter Dudy said he is confident the new business will be a success.
“To me, it’s not just that you’re starting a business, you’re bringing something to a small farming community that already has a great deal of vibrancy and you’re adding to that,” Dudy told the crowd.
A grand opening event for the new cider business will be held this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.