A Week in the Life Of BARRY CHEVALLIER GUILD


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Barry is the Chairman of Aspall having joined the cyder company in 1993. He is the 9th generation to manage the cyder production from Debenham in Suffolk and is also President of the European Vinegar Federation.

Barry is the Chairman of Aspall having joined the cyder company in 1993. He is the 9th generation to manage the cyder production from Debenham in Suffolk and is also President of the European Vinegar Federation.

My first evening in LA had got off to a cracking start – I was in Wurstkuche ‘purveyors of exotic grilled sausages’ for an evening tasting four sausages alongside the four cyders we export to America. Our cyder has always gone well with food and that night the winning pairing was our Imperial Vintage with their ‘pheasant with herbs de Provence’ sausage, which was extraordinarily good. However, at 10.30pm in Los Angeles (6.30am UK time) I was informed “You’re out!” by the nearest American to me, “out of what?” I asked? “The European Union” he replied and so it was, I found out that Britain had indeed voted out of the EU.
It was something I thought might happen but never really expected it to. With England crashing out of Euro 2016 the following Monday, more than once did I hear the “out of Europe twice in a week” jibe from amused Americans! Thus began my eight day sales trip to California. My brother, who usually does this sort of thing, was busy enjoying the delights of a very wet Glastonbury. So it fell upon me to attend two presentations to the sales teams of our distributor in California, one in LA and one in San Francisco.
The day after ‘the vote’ I was in a conference room presenting to 90 salespeople from the US distributor. I was on stage at 12.30 with only 15 minutes to present the brand and give everyone a taste of the range. I found out afterwards that from 8am that morning and with only a couple of breaks, the sales team had received a procession of brands every quarter of an hour. It went on until 3.30pm – what a day for them.

I was then straight out the door heading for Huntingdon Beach to visit various stockists of Aspall south of LA. Having last visited 17 years ago, when I was looking at finding a distributor for our vinegar range, it struck me then that there should be a market for cyder. So it was particularly satisfying to sit down at the bar of the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort and enjoy a bottle of Aspall Premier Cru.

Next stop was San Diego. The Lafayette Hotel and Bungalows in San Diego is a pretty cool place to stay. The pool was designed in 1946 by Johnny Weissmuller, the Olympic swimmer & Tarzan film star. With no plans for the weekend, Jeff who works for our importer Artisanal suggested visiting some accounts down there. Some already stocked Aspall, others he was hoping to get us into. LA revealed its downside at this point, the traffic is a nightmare. It is 105 miles from the hotel to the first bar we visited, Encinitas Ale House. Allegedly this can be done in about an hour and a half. For us it was 4 hours door to door. Never has a glass of Aspall tasted so good!

We then headed over to Churchill’s Cigar Lounge, where it would have been rude not to partake and a very jolly afternoon was spent with Danny the owner and some of his cigar loving friends. Before the evening went blurry, Karen, owner of Small Bar and Jeff brought me up to date with the beer market in California. There are some 730 micro-breweries – it was 500 in December 2015 – that’s a lot of beer chasing the same outlets, let alone cyder.
Ryan from our importers hosted me for three days whilst we toured bars and restaurants in San Francisco and San Jose. One of the highlights of my time in San Francisco was a visit to UpCider the only dedicated cyder bar in the city. Ozzy & Omer run a really great place and whilst nothing gives me greater pleasure than a pint of Aspall far from home, it was wonderful and encouraging to see so many people drinking cyder in one place.
So after 8 days solid of ‘ride alongs’ with the excellent guys from Artisanal and our Californian distributor Wine Warehouse, the sales part of my trip came to an end. I had one last task before my family would join me for a holiday. The ‘Quattro Vino’ wine train in Napa Valley – visiting four wineries in a day with food, wine, cocktails and beer in between – note to self, we need to get our cyder on this train! Market research for a visitors centre at Aspall was the official reason to try it out. However, my notes proving to be increasingly illegible as the day progressed – I will need to turn to photos to remind me of what a great day it was. It proved to be an excellent end to the week.


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