About Us

Big Fish Cider is more than just our delicious ciders…it’s also an amazing team of individuals who work hard to make sure that our ciders are the very best they can be.  Find out a little bit more about our team and what makes us tick.

Our Team

Team Member: Kirk Billingsley

Kirk B. – Cider maker, Chief Cider Evangelist

Kirk was born and raised in the community of Highland County, Virginia. His parents owned a house just outside the town limits of Monterey surrounded by 10 majestic old apple trees. Trees with names like Smokehouse, Winesap, Grimes Golden, among others. Kirk took these apples and the cider that was made from these apples for granted until picking up a couple of gallons of fresh sweet cider on the way back home from college one October. The bland juice, which was unlike any fresh-squeezed juice he grew up with, inspired Kirk to find out what the difference was, and started what became a lifelong passion for apples, including grafting trees, exploring for wild trees, making sweet cider, and finally fermentation of hard cider.

Kirk has taught many classes on grafting, pruning, cidermaking, and is himself a lifelong student of the apple. Big Fish Cider Company was born out of his passion of apples and his never-ending search for knowledge about apples.

Team Member: Sarah Pruning in the orchard

Sara C.S. – Orchardist (Pruning Queen) and Production Supervisor

Sarah Collins-Simmons grew up in the mountains of Nelson County, Virginia, so she felt right at home when she moved to Highland County in 2011 to participate as one of the founding Fellows at the Allegheny Mountain School. Growing up, Sarah first learned to care for plants from her parents in their garden and yard. After going to the University of Virginia to study architecture and environmental science, she found landscape architecture and went on to get a Master’s Degree in that field from the University of Georgia. At Big Fish Cider, Co. Sarah is the orchard manager and the lab technician; she gets to put her education and background to use. Additionally, she helps with cider production and in the tasting room.

Sarah is married to Joshua Simmons, a Highland native, the County Building Official, and a general contractor. Together, they enjoy renovating houses, and spending time outside, hiking and camping with their two dogs.

Team Member: Doyle on the Cider Press

Doyle S. – Production Assistant & Michael H.

Doyle Stone has made a home for himself and his family here in Highland County. He does not have a cider background but has quickly learned the ropes of working with apples and making great hard cider.

Michael Hancock is a recent transplant from Richmond, Virginia and helps during picking season.

“The Apple Corps” Tasting Room Crew

Team Member: Cody in the tap room leading a tasting

Cody C.

Team Member: Susan G in the Orchard

Susan G.

Team Member: No Photo Available

Sarah C.

It takes a village to make great cider. Thanks to all our friends who help out:

Team Member: Aaron on the cider press
Team Member: Dave pouring pressed cider
Team Member: David G pruning trees in the orchard
Big Fish Cider team member operating machinery
Team Member: David B placing bottles on the drying rack
Apiarists tending bees for our honey