Salem Cider House Nearly Put Out Of Business By Beacon Hill Mistake

By Jim Armstrong, WBZ-TV

SALEM (CBS) – They have only been at it since May, but Al and Denise Snape are making slow and steady progress growing their Salem cider house.

Several varieties of Far From The Tree Hard Cider are already sold in close to a hundred locations statewide.

“So far, it’s been fantastic,” explains cider maker and co-owner Al Snape.

But a few weeks ago, a Beacon Hill mistake almost ended everything.

Far From The Tree Cider in Salem (WBZ-TV)

Far From The Tree Cider in Salem (WBZ-TV)

“And from what we understood from the representatives,” says co-owner Denise Snape, “was that it was very unintended.”

A new state law that went into effect January 1, 2015 allows out-of-state wineries to ship their products into Massachusetts. That law also, and accidentally, would have required small distilleries like Far From The Tree to hire a distributor to sell their product.

“So we kind of went into panic mode, because for us we self-distribute 100% of our cider,” Mr. Snape says. “Without that ability right now as a small cider house, we’d go out of business immediately.”

Right now Mrs. Snape is in charge of distribution – a job she handles by loading boxes into her car and driving it to retailers.

Far From The Tree Hard Cider (WBZ-TV)

Far From The Tree Hard Cider (WBZ-TV)

If the couple had to start paying a distributor 30% to do that, it almost certainly would have shut down their shop. The Snapes estimate that about 30 other small businesses like theirs might have suffered the same fate.

The couple partnered with other businesses, sought support from local lawmakers like Salem’s mayor, and asked patrons to mobilize on social media. Still, the clock was ticking.

By the late afternoon of New Year’s Eve day, the young company found itself with close to 100 barrels of cider fermenting — and about to have no way to sell any of it.

“Literally in the morning, waking up [December 31st] we thought, there’s no way this is going to be passed,” Mrs. Snape recalls.

Amazingly, and with seven hours to spare, state lawmakers admitted to – and officially fixed – their mistake.

“It was just an amazing turnaround,” Mrs. Snape says.

“It was really good news to hear on New Year’s Eve,” adds Mr. Snape. “We celebrated with an extra bottle of cider when we found out. It was fantastic.”

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