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This spring, folks in Henderson County can expect to see Bold Rock Hard Cider begin to zero in on the Mills River area as a new local “home base”, and on the county’s annual multi-million dollar apple crop in particular to produce Bold Rock’s product that is daily growing in popularity and that’s already on the shelves of local grocery stores.

With craft beer and wine already becoming local products, hard cider seems like the next logical step for a promising and booming beverage industry in Western North Carolina and centered in Henderson County.

John Washburn is the founder and chairman of Bold Rock, whose original facility is in rural Nellysford, Virginia. As plans were unveiled in 2014 by Washburn, by the local Partnership For Economic Development, and by the Town of Mills River for Bold Rock to locate a facility here, Washburn told WHKP News that “we go where the apples are…and Henderson County has some of the best apples we’ve ever tried”. Washburn is no stranger to Western North Carolina. He has a family history and strong ties just a few miles down the road in Rutherford County. So, with that in his background, with an already successful hard cider product, and with Henderson County’s leadership in the apple industry it was inevitable that Washburn and Bold Rock would find a home here.

Way out in front in the hard cider industry, Bold Rock produced over 200,000 cases of hard cider in 2014 and is on track to make more than 350,000 in 2015.

Washburn teamed up with international cider maker and consultant Brian Shanks, who serves as Bold Rock’s president and CEO. Under their direction, Bold rock has made a significant land purchase for a local site in Mills River and is negotiating for another…as Washburn puts it, to get up and running as soon as possible this spring.

Describing his developoing relationship with Mills River, Washburn says “…Mills River has this wonderful blend of moving forward but it also has ties to the past in agriculture so it’s just a perfect scenario. I think it’s unique, I really do, and I think it’s going to become more unique”.

Bold Rock Hard Cider, in several varieties, is already available in local stores…and Washburn and Shanks hope to be “in production” making more, in co-operation with local Henderson County apple growers such as Greg Nix, by this summer and fall.

By WHKP News Director Larry Freeman

2/4/15 7am

Photo of John Washburn and Bold Rock Hard Cider by the Times-News