Virtue is a craft cider company launched in 2011 in Fennville, Michigan, by Gregory Hall, former brewmaster at Goose Island, and co-founder Stephen Schmakel. Our mission is to make European-style ciders from fresh heirloom apples — never from concentrate — and employ traditional farmhouse production methods that include native and secondary fermentation, use of wild yeasts, and an expansive oak barrel-aging program. We partner with local family farms by purchasing the highest quality apples for our ciders.
Greg Hall — Founder/CEO
Gregory Hall, known for his 20-year tenure as brewmaster at the Goose Island Beer Company, began his brewing career in 1988, the year his father, John Hall, opened the brewery. Leaving Goose Island in the spring of 2011, Hall embarked on a two-month pilgrimage to study the craft of cider. He toured and tasted at top cidermakers in England and France, served an intensive internship at Domaine Dupont in Normandy, and connected with Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider and Perry in Herefordshire, England.
Upon his return, Hall joined forces with longtime friend and entrepreneur Stephen Schmakel to create Virtue Cider in June 2011. As a ciderist, Hall utilizes the Michigan Coast’s apple-friendly climate, along with the centuries-old techniques of proper farmhouse cider making. He believes in sourcing only Michigan apples, both from Virtue’s farm and through partnerships with local family farms to obtain the highest quality fruit for Virtue’s ciders.
Gregory Hall is a long-time supporter of the Chicago food community and many local organizations such as Slow Food Chicago, Chicago’s Green City Market and the Chicago Rarities Orchard Project. A proud father and avid cyclist, Hall and his two children – Sofie and Henry – currently split time between Chicago and the farm in Fennville.
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Stephen Schmakel — Co-Founder/Vice President, Business Development
A Chicago native by way of Ann Arbor, MI, Stephen Schmakel brings over twenty years of experience in organizational structure and strategic program management in the telecommunications and technology sector to his position as Co-Founder and VP of Business Development for Virtue Cider. In this role he manages integration processes with current and future partners, explores new business opportunities for the company, and oversees investor communications. Stephen is an enthusiastic gastronome, and avid snowboarder and baseball fan. Based in New York City, he roots for the hometown Yankees.
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Missy Corey — Hospitality & Culinary Director
Missy Corey is a Chicago native, growing up on the city’s South Side neighborhood of Hyde Park. After entering into the restaurant scene in Chicago at former Ambria, Missy decided to return to Maine (where she had gone to college) to work on a farm and learn hands-on where her food was really coming from and how it was grown. New Leaf Farm in Durham Maine was a gateway into the Portland food scene where Corey trained with James Beard Award winners, Sam Hayward (Fore Street) and Rob Evans (Hugo’s/Duckfat). While Portland helped Corey define a personal style centered around seasonal eating and whole animal cookery, Chicago beckoned. Hoping to continue on the path of “nose to tail”, Corey landed at Publican Quality Meats where she started as a butcher and eventually took over as Chef de Cuisine. Working closely with Executive chef Paul Kahan, Corey continued to explore inventive seasonal cuisine and whole animal butchery. Working with farmers on a daily bases encouraged her to take the farm/chef connection one step further. Currently, as Culinary Director for Virtue Farms, she hopes to cook, teach and eat in a way that encourages sustainable farm practices and food awareness.
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Seth Boeve — Head Cidermaker
A West Michigan Native, Seth grew up in Holland, Michigan and graduated with a degree in Computer Information Systems from Davenport University. Boeve stumbled into the Craft Beverage industry with a three-year stint as a brewer and tour guide Saugatuck Brewing Company. His passion for cider was born here on the farm, when a brief tour of Virtue in 2012 turned into a career. He now spends his days playing with apples and wood at work, and chasing his two children at home.
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Ryan Beck — Agricultural Director
Ryan Beck’s initiation into the world of agriculture came about while he was studying anthropology and earth science at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Beck has also spent time working for some of Chicago’s premier garden nurseries and landscaping groups, as a gardener for Gethsemane Gardens and Project Manager for Marguerite Gardens. Beck was then tasked with starting an urban farm for the Jane Addams Hull House at UIC. As Garden Manager of Virtue Farms, Ryan hopes to combine his passion for native plants, knowledge of intensive vegetable farming and eye for landscape design to further promote sustainability and education on herbaceous and edible plants.
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