Following the release of their tasty new apple beverage, Dish caught up with The Apple Press' Ross Beaton and Sally Gallagher, to discover what makes the Bay so unique, where to find the best local produce and why Elephant Hill needs to be on your weekend escape radar...
It’s no secret that the Hawke’s Bay is home to some of the country’s best produce. How does The Apple Press reflect this?
Sally: "We do this by making the Hawke’s Bay apple varietals the 'hero' of our juices. We know our apples right down to the orchard they came from and are proud to showcase their variety and origin on our bottles. Authenticity is really important to us, it’s something we stand by."
What do you think sets The Apple Press apart from conventional apple juices?
Ross: "We take the best apples in the world and take great care with all the steps along the way. We carefully hand-pick and cool them quickly and then cold-press them only once for flavour and goodness.
Other companies can press their apples up to 3–4 times to get maximum yield from their fruit but we only press once so we get the very best quality flavour and fibre. And of course our key point of difference is that our apple juice is made from unique New Zealand varietals; Jazz ™, Royal Gala and Braeburn because we reckon just like wine, every apple has its own taste characteristics, and we want you to enjoy them just like that."
Talk us through how The Apple Press came about, from conception right through to launch…
Sally: "I was working with the New Zealand Food Innovation Network, assisting individuals and companies to scale up and commercialise projects in the Food and Beverage space, then along came Ross Beaton, the apple guy, with loads of ideas-on a mission to solve the “ugly fruit” that went unwanted. They say good things come from a single seed, and in our case, they came from a single conversation and here we are, launching our apple juice nearly 5 years to the day since we first met."
A lot of people might shy away from fruit juice due to the sugar content. Was this a challenge when refining the recipe?
Ross: "We know people are wary of sugar these days, but our juice is natural sugars only with no added extras, and like everything – it's all about balance and moderation, so we want people to enjoy our juice as a snack, take a walk, smile and enjoy the good things in life."
How important is it for you to source locally?
Ross: "It’s essential. Hawke’s Bay grows the best apples in the world and that’s the golden key to making the world’s best apple juice!"
Sally: "This is core to our brand – we only source apples from Hawke’s Bay because we believe they are the best. Other fruits in our range will be sourced from Hawkes’ Bay if they available, and if not, then we will only source from locations that have a similar reputation for quality produce and can offer traceability to source."
What advice would you give someone living in the regions looking to launch their own food and beverage start-up?
Ross: "Expect roadblocks, minefields and the road to open in front of you, every day. Find smart people rather than ‘yes” people to help on the journey and change them if they don’t get you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or advice, in all my time in business I can’t think of anyone who hasn’t given me their time and without them my journey would have been much harder."
Sally: "Firstly – engage experts early in the process to fill your own knowledge gaps and secondly if you want to ask a question of someone – just do it. They can only say no, and often you’ll be surprised they say yes!"
Best place to grab a casual bite to eat in Hawke’s Bay?
Sally: "When I venture over to Havelock North to catch up with friends I often suggest we head along to Hugo Chang – love the dumplings!"
Best place to grab a coffee?
Ross: "Depending on what part of town I’m in I’ll make a bee line for Crazy Good or Bay Espresso."
Best fine dining in Hawke’s Bay?
Ross: "It's impossible to choose just one because we are spoilt for choice but I’m a big fan of ‘fish in a bag”’ at Mister D, and winery dining at Mission Estate, Craggy Range and Elephant Hill."
Sally: "Oh, it’s a close call but I’d say Elephant Hill for anything special – awesome food, amazing setting with subtle, understated service."
To learn more about The Apple Press, see their website here.
"We know our apples right down to the orchard they came from and are proud to showcase their variety and origin on our bottles. Authenticity is really important to us, it’s something we stand by." – Sally Gallagher, The Apple Press.