Following its successful debut in 2019, CraftCon, the only UK conference for aspiring and existing commercial craft cider makers, returns in April with the key theme of sustainability running throughout its programme. This relates not only to the environmental impact of orchards and cider making, but also to equipping businesses with the ability to grow and to build a long term future.

“With 60% of the world’s cider produced in the UK, we are uniquely vulnerable to changes which affect the viability of orchards in the UK, both from a climatic and commercial perspective,” said programme chair Tom Tibbits of Artistraw Cider. “In uncertain times, fostering a resilient and vibrant industry founded on genuine sustainability will ensure future generations also inherit our ancient yet robustly modern cider culture.

Arriving at Pershore College on 24 and 25 April and organised by the Three Counties Cider & Perry Association, renowned cider authority Andrew Lea will provide context in his keynote address, reflecting on the work of Long Ashton Research Station and more recent progress in cider.

“With the ever rising interest in craft cider and perry, this event comes at exactly the right time to support a vibrant and growing industry,” said TCCPA chair, Simon Day of Once Upon A Tree. “Twice as big and twice as good as 2019, this year’s CraftCon has an amazing line-up of speakers and panellists who are ready to enthuse, educate and energise cider and perry producers from across the UK and beyond.”

With three strands covering the Cidery, Orcharding and Business, vital current topics to be covered include responding to the climate emergency, raising finance, and the quest for sustainable business models embracing duty reform.

BBC Food & Farming Drinks Producer of the Year, Ross Cider, appear amongst an impressive roster of talks drawn from all sectors of the independent cider sector, including presentations from Dave Matthews, Bartestree Cider, and Ragged Stone Cider’s Chris Atkins on the future of perry.

Orchard-strand highlights include Professor Paul Hadley, from the University of Reading who will improve our understanding of how future climate scenarios might impact perennial tree fruit crops in Apples in a Warming World while an orcharding expert panel explores Diversity in the Orchard.

The Ciderologist Gabe Cook will lead panels on kegging, while Pilton Cider’s Martin Berkeley joins Simon Day to explore co-ferments and cider hybrids.

SIBA’s head of public affairs, Barry Watts, joins NACM’s Mark Hopper to bring previous experience to assist the campaign for cider duty reform. Caitlin Braam, formerly of Seattle Cider Company and Angry Orchard and now president of Zafa Wines, will lend international inspiration on building a cider business, while Cider Women, the vibrant new pan-industry group, will take the opportunity to update on progress and to chart its future direction.

Cider Doctors, a chance for delegates to share their ciders with the experts, returns, as does the Grafting 101 masterclass led by Tom Tibbits.

The ever popular Cider Share takes place on the evening of the first day, with a new public event, Craft Cider Uprising, destined for The Angel Hotel in Pershore on Saturday 25 April. Sponsored by the National Association of Cider Makers, this will celebrate the remarkably rich gathering of cider talent with local townsfolk and cider fans from further afield. Full programme available here.