Take two veterans, mix in an apple background, an interest in making hard cider at home, plus seasoned business experience and what do you have? Tart Cider LLC of Tumwater, which in a relatively short period of time has grown by leaps and bounds.
“We are passionate about making cider,” said Zoe Van Schyndel, who co-owns the business with Nick Timm.
Tart Cider is in the Warehouse District in Tumwater, which is home to a number of growing businesses. It has leased 2,000 square feet of space, but expects to expand into 6,000 square feet. It also went from producing 2,500 gallons per month to about 6,000 gallons.
Tart Cider products can be found at Total Wine & More and Haggen; it’s distributed from Vancouver, Wash., to Woodinville, Van Schyndel said. They also operate a tap room in Tumwater where customers can belly up to the bar for a taste, a pint or a growler.
Van Schyndel teaches business and entrepreneurship at The Evergreen State College in Olympia and Timm is a former student. He grew up on a family apple farm in apple country: Okanogan, Washington. Both enjoyed making cider at home, so their fledgling business venture took flight about two years ago.
But Van Schyndel wanted to do it right, take it slow and carefully research the business and opportunity. This was partly driven by a lesson learned in the go-go world of hedge funds.
Van Schyndel previously operated two that made socially responsible investments. But the idea was ahead of its time, so she found she spent a lot of money on educating investors. And then the Great Recession arrived and both funds were closed, she said.
The craft cider industry isn’t as mature as the craft beer business, but it’s far enough along in the Northwest that educating the consumer isn’t as necessary, she said.
“It’s more than a fad, but it’s still an early-stage industry in the Northwest,” Van Schyndel said.
They started the business in her garage and later won a business plan competition for veterans (Van Schyndel served in the Army and Timm in the Air Force) through the University of Washington in Tacoma that carried a first-place prize of $50,000 — $25,000 in cash and $25,000 in services.
They use unique varieties of apples grown in Washington state and have them pressed into juice in Hood River, Oregon. They later ferment in Tumwater and emerge into a number of different flavors. Two — Granny’s Grudge and Ging-A-Berry — are sold in 16-ounce cans.
Others can be found in kegs or on tap.
Popular flavors include peach, passion fruit, and mojito madness. For the mojito, Tart Cider sources mint from Lacey-based Callisons — and it tastes unmistakably like a mojito.
The ciders are dry but still have flavor, Van Schyndel and Timm said.
▪ Owners: Zoe Van Schyndel and Nick Timm.
▪ Location: 8024 River Drive SE, Unit #303, Tumwater
▪ Employees: 3; a bartender and two in sales.
▪ Retail hours: 3 to 8 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 3 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
▪ Veterans: Van Schyndel served in the Army and Timm in the Air Force.
▪ Online: https://tartcidery.com