MBA alumni planning world’s biggest cider house in Portland

by Andrew Hickey,

Willamette MBA alumni Colin Schilling and Mark Kornei, co-founders of the top-selling Seattle-based craft hard-cider brand Schilling Cider House, will be bringing their talents back to Oregon.

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The company is slated to open its newest location at Portland’s Goat Blocks, in the city’s eastside industrial district, this spring. It will be the world’s largest cider house, with more draft craft hard ciders on tap than anywhere else (beating the company’s own title currently held by its Seattle site). The location will also offer a gluten-free kitchen serving locally sourced sausages and side dishes, and as always, the ciders are strictly all natural, made from 100 percent fresh-pressed apples and non-GMO ingredients.

“We are ecstatic to finally see this project come together after two years of planning,” Schilling said. “Portland, Oregon has some of the most educated and appreciative cider drinkers in the nation, so moving our sour barrel program to the new location was an obvious choice. We hope we can add something amazing to the Portland cider scene.”

A showcase for Oregon cider

Schilling and Kornei are performing much of the design and buildout of the cider house themselves, as they did with their Seattle location.

“We built the Fremont location with our own hands, and that kind of experience really ties you to a location,” said Kornei. “It means something more when you do it yourself.”

The cider house will feature 40 guest taps that will primarily include independent local cider companies, plus 10 of Schilling’s own blends, said Nicole Ledford, vice president of marketing and public relations. Cider making courses currently offered in Seattle will continue in Portland, as the company believes education can greatly enhance cider enthusiasts’ appreciation of the craft.

“An appreciation for ciders brings a more robust platform of cider drinkers which in turn supports the entire cider industry,” said Ledford. “We view the Schilling Cider Houses as a platform for the industry, not just us.”

Since Portland is “a market that has a lot of local pride and being ‘outsiders’ from Seattle, we knew highlighting local talent was key and that we would have to bring something truly different,” said Ledford – and that includes hiring a female head cider maker in Portland, a distinction shared by only a handful of other cider companies in the country.

“Our goal is to showcase all of the great things that Oregon is doing in the cider world,” she added.

The team said their Willamette MBA experience and the close ties they maintain with the college community “gave us a great insight into the Oregon culture,” said Ledford. “Portland is a different market and having so much of our team having spent so much time in Oregon has been helpful.”

Impact of Willamette MBA Angel Investment Fund

Schilling and Kornei both gained first-hand experience in entrepreneurship by participating in Willamette MBA’s Angel Investment class, a one-of-a-kind experiential learning program that provides students with the opportunity to pursue actual funding from angel investors to get their innovative business plans off the ground.

“The Angel Investment class helped me immensely in getting my own business off the ground,” said Schilling. “I got experience in how entrepreneurship actually works, not just book learning. I learned what to do and what not to do, instead of learning it later the hard way.”

The Willamette University Angel Investment Fund is the first student-run angel investment program in the nation. The program has exposed more than 200 students to the real-world challenges of entrepreneurship and made investments in 30 early-stage companies.

To read more about Schilling Cider’s new location in Portland, check out the company’s official press release.

For more information on the Angel Fund, visit our website.