Shacksbury is expanding in Vergennes

MEMBERS OF THE Shacksbury Cider production crew stand in the center of the 30,000-square-foot plant off Meigs Road just outside Vergennes. The growing company can brew 250,000 cases of hard cider there. Below, Abigail Iliff makes room for more cans to be labeled early this week. Independent photo/William Haig

Independent photo/William Haig

Independent photo/William Haig

VERGENNES — Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, Shacksbury Cider has managed not only to increase sales, but also to expand its Vergennes production space, raise investment cash and launch a new product, according to its owners.

Shacksbury now occupies 30,000 square feet in the former Meigs Road home of Country Home Products, according to David Dolginow, who with co-owner Colin Davis cofounded Shacksbury in Shoreham in 2013.

And, said Dolginow in an email exchange with the Independent, Shacksbury can produce 250,000 cases of its specialty hard ciders in the Meigs Road space it began occupying this past summer.

And, he said, the company has grown its work force and can ramp up its production further if demand for its products continues to grow.

“We have the ability to expand to 1 million cases of annual production at this site,” Dolginow wrote. “With this new facility coming online, our team in Vermont has also expanded from roughly 10 to 15 employees, plus we have four employees who are out of state.”

Dolginow did not divulge numbers for the privately held company’s sales, but when asked about where things stood he was happy to give an example how Shacksbury’s numbers have grown around the country despite the pandemic.

“We just had our best March ever,” he said. “In 2020, we saw a decline in sales to bars and restaurants, but we saw growth in our off premise (grocery store) business.”

Shacksbury’s growth has also attracted investment, according to Dolginow.

“In November we became the first Vermont company to raise the (prior) maximum $1.07M via an equity crowdfunding campaign that was hosted by StartEngine. We had over 430 people join as investors,” he wrote.

“With the SEC having expanded the Regulation Crowdfunding cap to $5M, we are assessing the possibility of building on that first campaign and raising another round of funding this spring.”

Shacksbury’s first move to Vergennes was to Kennedy Brothers on North Main Street, and originally the company had considered expanding on that site.

But that was before Generac Holdings Inc, which purchased Company Homes Products in 2015, decided to consolidate CHP’s operations in Chittenden County, thus opening space in the nearby Meigs Road facility.

Dolginow said Shacksbury will keep a public presence in the north end of Kennedy Brothers and could still develop the upper levels of that wing of the building. 

“We’re continuing to operate our tasting room out of the Kennedy Brothers building and also hope to eventually have a small cidery/winery in there for special projects, like our Lost Apple Project and our barrel-aging program,” he said, adding if all goes well Shacksbury intends to reopen the interior this summer as well as offer curbside service.

Shacksbury still has a lease for storage space at 14 North Main St., the original Denecker Chevrolet dealership recently purchased by Kennedy Brothers co-owner Bob Feuerstein and broker/developer Scott Hardy. But Dolginow said the company has already moved out.

Shacksbury makes Rosé, Dry and Vermonter ciders, plus limited special editions. And now Dolginow said the company is adding to its offerings a new brand called “Easy Wine.”

“It’s a first-of-its-kind canned light wine that is low alcohol, about half that of other wines at just 5.8% alc/vol. It is wine that is intended to be enjoyed like a light beer or hard seltzer. Light wine for leisure time, we say,” he wrote. “We’re in the process of rolling out this new brand out in 19-plus states throughout the country and directly through our e-commerce site.”

Dolginow summed up how he and Davis are feeling about their eight-year-old venture:

“We’re looking forward to the second half of this year and are optimistic on all levels.”

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Addison County Independent