Widden Brook Farm's tractor in the snow

Welcome to Widden Brook Farm

May 17, 2024Darren Baguley

Almost exactly a year ago we started doing farmers’ markets to get our unique low alcohol Elderflower Mist Sparkling out into the world. At the same time, we started collecting the email addresses of our wonderful customers with the promise of staying in touch.

It’s taken us nearly a year, but welcome to our first newsletter!

In this and future editions there’ll be updates on what’s happening in the business, stories from the farm, subscriber-only special offers, recipes and occasional new product announcements. We hope you’ll continue to travel on the journey with us. 


Celebrating our first anniversary

What can we say, it has been a wild ride on this journey we started almost by accident. We planted two elder trees as part of a permaculture food forest and they’ve thrived in Widden Brook Farm’s unique microclimate, unlike the nearly 3,000 hazelnut ‘whips’ we’ve planted over the years.

A major goal of our ‘tree change’ has been to produce as much of our food as possible from our property, but some experimentation quickly revealed that processing elderberries by hand would be too difficult - too stalky, too small – and importing a destemming machine would be expensive.

Serendipity came to our rescue. An episode of one of our favourite shows, River Cottage, featured an elderflower ‘champagne.’ Yes, we know Champagne refers only to Champagne made using traditional methods in and from grapes grown in the Champagne region of France - that’s why we call it a Sparkling.

We decided to give it a go. Darren tracked down a 30-litre carboy with airlock and tap while Shireen researched recipes. The results of our first try making Elderflower Sparkling turned out well enough for us to keep experimenting. After a few trial batches we had a recipe we were happy with and that was the end of us buying Moscato!.

As we shared our Elderflower Sparkling with friends and family, requests came for an extra case or two and production started to ramp up. Then Darren gave a couple of bottles to the editor of a magazine he wrote for. Michelle loved it and said, ‘you really should do this commercially; it’s all natural, totally sustainable and tastes amazing.’ Not long afterwards, Darren’s Dad mentioned that no/low alcohol beverages are the new new thing.

A few minutes Googling proved both were  right about it being on trend but what really convinced us was when Michelle and her four-wheel drive club, fleeing Sydney after lockdown, turned up at our remote property in the middle of winter. They had bought a bottle of craft gin and wanted a case of our Elderflower Sparkling to go with it.

As Shireen puts it, “Seven four-wheel drives filled with people we didn’t know turned up to buy a case of something we’d never sold.”

Despite being in the midst of battling the then-Coalition government’s hare-brained plan to turn our beautiful valley into a coal mine, we decided to do a trial batch of around 1,000 bottles. We learned a lot with that first batch, some of which we’ll cover in future newsletters, but the biggest surprise was that we were making booze.

All the Elderflower Sparkling recipes we had found  suggested it was non-alcoholic, so we assumed this to be the case. As ours is double fermented over long periods, however, we decided to get it tested and to our surprise found that it came in at 2 percent, low alcohol to be sure, but alcoholic enough for us to need a licence!

That also meant we had to rethink our marketing strategy as well as develop a new label. All that took time which meant that our trial batch, which we made in the spring of 2021 to start selling in autumn 2022, didn’t hit the market until April 2023. It sold out in a matter of months, but we had, fortunately, received enough positive feedback from the beta testers in our local community that we had gone all in, bought more vats and produced our first commercial batch in spring 2022.


Crimson Delight back in stock

 Some of Shireen’s girlfriends joked that if we’re doing a sparkling, we need to have a pink one, a la Carrington Blush etc. so she added some berries to a batch of our classic Elderflower Mist. As well as the colour, we got a delicate but complex floral note overlaying the classic's elderflower base note.

Our trial batch sold out in a few months, as did the micro batch we did for Christmas, but our 2023 vintage Crimson Delight is now available. If you would like to restock use code MumsDay2024 to get free shipping for half-case and above orders.


Farewell Orange Grove Organic Market, hello Castle Hill

When we first started selling our Elderflower Mist Sparkling at farmers’ markets, one of the sites we were most excited to be at was Orange Grove. Sadly, nearly a year after we first started trading there, we have regretfully made the decision to move on.

Having spent many years living in the Inner West, we had hoped to remain an active part of the community through our participation in the Orange Grove market.

We will miss the connections we have made with both customers and fellow stallholders but we’re looking forward to our first market at Castle Hill on 26th May where we will continue the cadence of being in Sydney on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month.


'Find our Elderflower Mist' page

 We know it can be challenging keeping up with where we’re going to be next, trust us it’s pretty interesting for us as well. To make it simpler, we’ve put up a new page on our website listing what markets we’re doing and when as well as our growing number of stockists.




Bye for now,

Darren and Shireen



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