The boxes with glass bottles of the popular fruit juices are stacked up in front of the hall.
Apples. Cider and whisky – tradition from Diesdorf
The Schulz family has been running a cider factory for four generations in the small village of Diesdorf in the Altmark region. Due to the wide range of products and the quality in the craft, the family business remains successful.
The "Süßmost-, Weinkelterei und Edeldestille" has been in the Diesdorf family business for four generations. Matthias Schulz shares the management with his father Stefan Schulz. "I'm a tech person. I'm even more happy that the machines are turning and everything is working than about the spritzer that comes out at the end," says the graduate engineer. What he appreciates most about his work is product development and trial and error. "Despite similar processes, we have great versatility and always have new products." The fruit pressing plant also receives orders from other companies that want to process fruit or have drinks produced. "Sometimes there's a bit of exotic merchandise involved. We have just received dates, for example. Or recently a start-up company wanted to have wine spritzer produced here. Then we try out and develop new manufacturing processes. That's exciting." It all started in 1935, when Matthias' great-grandparents ran a small shop and ice cream parlour. At that time they bought fruit on the side, which was pressed and fermented into wine, using "only kitchen technology” back then. Over the years a small fruit pressing plant emerged from this. It survived the war and was even allowed to continue as a private enterprise in the GDR. In GDR times the Altmarkers were glad that the fruit pressing plant existed. However, the 1990s after the fall of the Berlin Wall were a difficult period for the Schulz family. Now there were many new exciting drinks to try, classic fruit juice was no longer the order of the day. Instead, customers from Lower Saxony came to the Altmark to have fruit pressed and were enthusiastic that this "is still really done by hand". During this time the Schulzes sold their drinks a lot at weekly markets and the family business grew very slowly.
Today, about a thousand tonnes of fruit are processed in the plant each year, eighty percent of which are apples, because apple juice is still the number one product. The company is based on many pillars, and the former portfolio of juices and fruit wines has expanded considerably. The "high-proof division", which Matthias is responsible for, has existed since 2008: Fine brandies and liqueurs, an in-house gin and the "Oldmark Whisky" – the Altmark’s first single malt whisky. Fruit mulled wines and punch are produced for the winter season. Traditional contract processing is also still running: private individuals bring their fruit from the garden to have it processed at the fruit pressing plant. There are seasonal collection points throughout the Altmark where you can exchange fruit for juices. The drinks are sold in the farm's own farm shop and via supermarkets in Saxony-Anhalt and eastern Lower Saxony. Direct deliveries are also made to schools and food establishments. However, the Diesdorf-based company is not affected by fruit pressing plants dying out. "Every year two or three fruit pressing plants collapse in Germany because no successor is found. Young people no longer want to do this kind of work. The few fruit pressing plants that remain cover ever larger areas.” Organic apple juice is even produced in Diesdorf for a Scandinavian company, which is sold there under the label Made in Germany. "A Scandinavian company asked us to press their organic fruit. We inquired if there were any local fruit pressing plants. They explained to us that their factories are so large and automated that they don't even accept such small quantities. We are proud that our high-quality craftsmanship is still so highly valued."