Under the auspices of SEIC project, two family businesses – Kuusikaru Ltd (Piesta Kuusikaru farm) from Green Riverland area in Estonia and SIA “LV-Destilāti” from Lielupe area in Latvia – visited each other to learn more about their collagues in the two neighbouring countries.

The first stage was our visit to Latvia on 12-14 August, 2018. While our main interest was to learn about the production of LV-Destilāti, in order to get a broader sense of the business environment in Latvia, our hosts Jolanta Lapina and Jānis Evelons had kindly arranged visits also to several other companies who process apples – among them IceBerry at Talsi who mostly focuses on wholesale and private label, a classic small producer Vējkalnietis and finally Abavas, the best known brand of Latvian cider industry. There was something to learn from each of them and it was especially interesting that each had found their own specific niche of business.

Obviously our main focus was on LV-Destilāti and to our delight Jolanta and Jānis were very kind to introduce all the different aspects from production to marketing. In the course of two days we had many good discussions, touching upon the challenges of family businesses as well as technical details of the production process, the differences of legal framework in our two countries as well as the prospects of actual cooperation between our companies in the near future. Indeed we also toured their farm that besides the distillery also features horse stables and a large variety of domestic animals and birds.

For a change we also participated in the filming of a video about the entrepreuners of Lielupe region, including also SEIC exchange projects. Additionally, we also enjoyed discovering apple products in the assortment of Pure chocolate factory as well as at the Valmiermuiza specialty store in Riga.

The second part of our exchange took place on 2-3 October, 2018, when Jolanta and Jānis came to visit us at Piesta Kuusikaru farm – we showed them around the production facility and tasting room, discussed marketing and sales activities and also introduced the concept of our farm shop.
To create the opportunity for further contacts with other Estonian producers, we paid a visit to Allikukivi wine manor and another craft winemaker Mamm&Frukt, located in the city of Pärnu.
Given the other passion of our guests, apart from drinks’ production, we also toured Tori Horse Breeding Farm

As we said goodbye, we agreed to continue keeping in touch with our Latvian colleagues and hopefully the contacts established thanks to SEIC project will develop into a long-term cooperation.

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