Vt. Hard Cider to delay expansion

MIDDLEBURY — The Vermont Hard Cider Company late last week announced it will delay the start of construction on a new $24 million cidery until 2013.
The company had hoped to begin construction of an 87,005-square-foot bottling plant on Exchange Street in Middlebury this summer but officials said the permitting, engineering, design and bidding process has taken longer than expected.
VTHCC is nearing completion of these preliminary hurdles, they said. However, to start a project of this magnitude and scope just as the ground is beginning to freeze could further complicate construction budgets and timetables.
“Construction is not something we want to rush. This new cidery will serve as the centerpiece of the Woodchuck Hard Cider brand,” said President and CEO Bret Williams. “It will allow us to grow as a Vermont-based company and create a destination for our passionate fans to immerse themselves in the history and story of Woodchuck. This decision allows us to continue to pursue needed permits and further vet construction plans to ensure our fans and employees get the type of facility they deserve.”
VTHCC last fall filed plans for a bottling plant on a 27.6-acre parcel on the north side of Middlebury’s Exchange Street, between the Bridge School and Maple Landmark Woodcraft.
Williams said Woodchuck Hard Cider continues to grow at more than 20 percent per year and is expected to employ 135 people by the end of 2012. The current Middlebury 60,00-square-foot facility off Pond Lane will continue to handle and meet demand growth over the next year.
A more specific timeframe on groundbreaking is expected in the new year.

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