The UK is known for plenty of apple dishes and accompaniments, such as apple crumble and apple sauce, but here in the West Country, we are famed for our cider production.
According to the National Trust, the warm and wet climate in this corner of the country is what makes it the perfect place to grow apples in the UK.
We are so lucky to have a wealth of cider producers in our neck of the woods who make amazing use of the natural resources we have around us.
You’ve probably heard it countless times, but there has never been a more vital time to support local businesses than right now. Instead of buying an imported case of cider, you will definitely taste the difference if you buy a few bottles from a local producer.
World Apple Day – an annual celebration of apples and the bountiful orchards they’re grown in – was held just this past week on Wednesday October 21.
Here are just a few of the amazing cider producers we have here in the West Country.
The Old Vicarage, Awre, Newnham, Gloucestershire, GL14 1EL
Severn Cider produces award-winning artisan cider on the beautiful banks of the River Severn, in the Forest of Dean, and has been doing so since 1956.
Concentrate is not used in their flavoursome tipples, with 100% whole juice used in the creation of their ciders, perry and cider vinegar.
Four of Severn Cider’s varieties have won Great Taste Awards, and all of their varieties are suitable for those with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free diets.
Day’s Cottage, Upton Lane, Brookthorpe, Gloucestershire, GL4 0UT
Day’s Cottage produces its home-pressed apple juice, cider, and perry using unusual varieties of fruit native to Gloucestershire – which is what makes its delectable drinks so unique.
The Flower of the West, which originates from Minsterworth, and the Taynton Codlin are two local apple varieties used by Day’s Cottage, whereas the Blakeney Red and Brown Bess pear varieties, the latter being common in South Gloucestershire, are used to make their perry.
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Dunkerton’s Organic Cider
Dowdeswell Park, London Road, Charlton Kings, Cheltenham, GL52 6UT
The ‘organic to the core’ cider company was founded in Herefordshire, by Ivor and Susie Dunkerton in 1980. Now, it is run by Ivor’s son, Julian, and his business partner, Bean.
There is an amazing assortment of local cider on offer from Dunkerton’s – all of which is pressed, fermented, and bottled in Gloucestershire.
Also, the Charlton Kings brewery does not use much pesticide or artificial fertiliser, and has been certified by the Soil Association for 31 years now.
Keeper’s Cottage, Stanway Hill, Stanway, Gloucestershire, GL54 5PH
Prior’s Tipple emerged onto the cider scene almost two decades ago now, and only uses pure, undiluted fruit juice from unsprayed orchards to make its cider in Stanway.
The locally-sourced apples are picked by hand, and then pressed and allowed to naturally ferment. Aside from a little bit of sugar – nothing is added to the fruit, and natural yeast which comes from the skin of the fruit aids the fermentation process.
Providence Barn, Manor Farm, Hazelton, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 4EB
Making cider, perry and apple juice aren’t the only things Bushel+Peck are good at – this Hazelton-based company seems to have a very good understanding of the responsibility a business has to make sure that, if it does have any impact on the environment, it needs to be a positive one.
All of the cider lovingly produced by Bushel+Peck is made using unsprayed fruit, and for each variety, it can name which Gloucestershire village the fruit came from. Not only does Bushel+Peck use fruit from designated orchards in Gloucestershire, but it also accepts fruit that would otherwise be wasted from gardens throughout the county.
Bushel+Peck are members of the Gloucestershire Orchard Trust, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, and, since May, all of its cider packaging has been plastic-free.
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Hecks Farmhouse Cider, 9-11 Middle Leigh, Street, Somerset, BA16 0LB
The Hecks family have been cultivating their traditional farmhouse cider in Somerset for generations – six to be exact. The venture began way back in 1840, but the family only began sharing their nectar with the public.
Their liquid magic farmhouse cider comes in sweet, medium and dry varieties, and has a constantly changing list of other varieties – also produced from apples grown locally on the farm’s orchards.
Bere Cider Company
Woodpecker Lodge, Bere, Aller, Langport, Somerset, TA10 0QX
These craft cidermakers trade from their quaint working farm, just outside the small town of Langport. Most of the apples used to produce their traditional English cider come from their own orchards – but Bere Cider Company don’t just stop at cider.
Alongside apple juice and apple cider vinegar, the Bere Cider Company have recently began selling their own ‘5 Acres’ sparkling cider, which would make for a perfect crisp treat by the fire this autumn.
Myrtle Farm, Station Road, Sandford, Winscombe, BS25 5RA
Thatchers is a renowned cider producer, and we are lucky enough to boast the figurehead company as an asset of the West Country. The orchards, nestled at the foot of the Mendips, have been cultivated by the same family for over 100 years.
The family use 150-year-old oak vats to mature their renowned cider, which comes in a plethora of different varieties. From the well-known ‘Haze’ and ‘Gold’ varieties, to the Thatchers Family Reserve ‘Somerset Sparkling Apple Wine’, there is so much for cider-lovers to choose from.
The Somerset Cider Brandy Company
The Somerset Cider Brandy Company, Pass Vale Farm, Burrow Hill, Kingsbury Episcopi, Martock, Somerset, TA12 6BU
This farm, burrowed amongst 180 acres of cider apple orchards, has been pressing cider for more than two centuries – and there’s something about it which sets it apart from its counterparts.
As well as producing traditional Somerset cider from over forty varieties of vintage cider apples, The Somerset Cider Brandy Company has been reviving the ancient craft of cider brandy making for three decades now using a handsome copper still from Normandy.
Higher Willand Farm, Churchstanton, Taunton, TA3 7RL
Only using apples from Somerset to curate their flavoursome end product, Tricky Cider makes use of many of the disused and forgotten orchards in the county – many of which hide old, unusual varieties of apple.
As well as producing relatively traditional varieties of cider, Tricky Cider have also ventured out into new flavours, including an elderflower variety which incorporates their own delicious elderflower cordial for a zesty end product. There is also a rhubarb version, which makes for a lovely balance of apple and rhubarb.