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Ever since meeting Franco, I’ve wanted to make more with our apples.

Apple juice and cider are obvious progressions; I also want to make our own apple balsamic vinegar. We made Granny’s Apple Juice in a factory on farm when I was a kid, selling it in 2L glass bottles. I still remember the taste of foamy, just-pressed juice.

Grannys Apple Juice was produced by Newton Orchards in Manjimup until the mid-80s. The factory was closed when two family members decided to leave the business. Townsfolk still remember the delicious tasting juice sold in 2L glass bottles.

At Slow Food’s Terra Madre in 2010, I was after an early morning espresso and said a friendly bonjourno to an older Italian man as I passed. He said hello back in a much better accent, and asked if I knew where he could get a coffee.

Franco turned out to be a biodynamic farmer from Tuscany. With his family he grows ancient grains, grinds them into flour with a traditional mill, and makes Demeter-certified pasta. He also has a small orchard of heritage Italian apples that he makes into apple balsamic vinegar.

I tasted a few incredibly inspiring, delicious apple balsamic vinegars just the day before, then suddenly a mentor arrived! You never know what might happen if you say a friendly hello…

Franco advised me to plant some heritage apple trees, including the variety Winesap, as you need a mix for making the best vinegar. Finally this month, two years later, we’re getting around to doing that.

The other thing we’re doing is getting on with experimenting, heritage apples or not! Fortunately Franco is into Facebook and Skype, so we’ve kept in contact easily. He was very excited last week to hear we are getting started. For the past two Saturdays, we’ve been crushing and pressing apples. Report to follow!