The Windquest Group continues to invest in Michigan-based beverage and entertainment businesses. Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Windquest is a privately held investment management and private equity firm. It has just taken a majority interest in the Ridge Cider Co., a craft hard cider company based in Grant, Mich. During the past year, the Windquest Group has made strategic investments in the craft beverage market. In 2016, it purchased Holland-based Coppercraft Distillery.
The company also has investments in Reserve Wine & Food (a Grand Rapids-based restaurant) and Boxed Water is Better (also in Grand Rapids). There are plenty of great breweries in Grand Rapids. Might any of them be next?
Matt DeLong, founder of Ridge, will become the head cidermaker, and business operations will transition to Windquest. This investment positions Ridge to begin bottling its hard cider for regional distribution. To date, Ridge’s distribution network has been limited to taprooms and restaurants along the Lake Michigan shore. The company will immediately pursue distribution into retail and wholesale suppliers. From the press release:
“Artisanal cider is made like a fine wine. It starts with locally grown apples from estate orchards, which are then fermented with their own sugars and yeasts. The result is a refreshing alternative to traditional white wine or a session IPA,” said DeLong. “Our goal from the beginning was to start with the best products, make real cider, and build from there. With Windquest, we can accelerate our bottling operations and immediately expand our distribution network.”
Launched in 2015, Ridge produces more than 30 dry, artisanal ciders in the European tradition, made from 100 percent fresh Michigan apples, personally selected by DeLong from specific varieties found along “the ridge,” West Michigan’s legendary apple orchard country. Ridge employs traditional farmhouse production methods that include native and secondary fermentation and use of wild yeasts, native to the region.
And so the industry goes…