Blossomtime 2024 – celebrating orchards, apples and cider in Herefordshire

Blossomtime 2024 – celebrating orchards, apples and cider in Herefordshire

This special springtime opportunity to enjoy the local orchards famed for their cider, dessert and culinary fruit, takes place over two days on Sunday 5th and Monday 6th May. This year, community organisers the Big Apple Association have spread their wings to co-ordinate more activities than ever across three familiar venues, Putley Parish Hall, Court Farm Barn in Aylton and Putley’s Dragon Orchard, each offering a different experience. Putley Parish Hall will be the welcome hub, where visitors can park, buy their entrance tickets (£5 for adults, children under 16 free, valid for all three venues), pick up leaflets and start walks, both guided and ‘freestyle’, around the orchards.  It will also be the centre for the famous Blossomtime lunches and teas, provided in turn by Aylton Church, Munsley WI, Ledbury Young Farmers and Putley WI. Court Farm Barn, Aylton will be the centre for arts, crafts, demonstrations, workshops and talks, where Laughing Betsy will co-ordinate a collaboration between visitors, craftspeople and artists to create an installation reflecting themes of regeneration, re-use, natural materials and nature. Dragon Orchard will host sample tastings selected from 150 entries to the 2024 Big Apple Cider and Perry Trials, a number of cider/perry makers selling their wares and music, poetry and entertainment in the orchard.  Or visitors can just wander amongst the fruit trees, soaking up the sounds and scents of nature. Visitors will be encouraged to walk between the three venues – they are all within easy reach of each other – but for those who may need some assistance or just for the sheer fun of it, a tractor and passenger trailer will be available, as has happened at Harvestime for several years now.  Speakers include Adam Wells, author of ‘Perry: A Drinker’s Guide’ and Gabe Cook, the well known and now locally resident Ciderologist. Full programme details are available at

Hereford AppleFest Banquet 8 October 2022

Hereford AppleFest Banquet 8 October 2022

To celebrate the inaugural Hereford AppleFest, the City of Hereford’s historic Town Hall will host an apple-themed banquet on Saturday 8 October at 7pm.

Our region has the perfect soils and weather to grow the finest apples in the world, not to mention centuries of experience in crafting fine apple juice, cider and perry.

Guests are invited to celebrate the 2022 harvest with Martin Carter’s (Saxtys’ Executive Chef) unique apple-infused menu. Using local ingredients, each of the dishes are matched with ciders and perries from some of the region’s leading producers – including

The banquet will take place in the majestic Assembly Hall, the scene of many lavish banquets over the 120 year history of the Grade II listed Town Hall. With its magnificent ornate ceiling, beautiful stained glass, and atmospheric oak panelling, don’t miss the chance to sample this exquisitely designed menu celebrating Herefordshire’s special relationship with the apple in this unique setting.

This experience is certain to book up quickly! To secure your ticket please visit

Key-note speakers for the evening: Global cider expert, The Ciderologist, Gabe Cook, and the UK’s first Pommelier, Jane Peyton, School of Booze.

Tickets: £60 including welcome drink, key-note speakers, three course meal with matching ciders and perries, and coffee and mints at the close. Vegan/vegetarian/special dietary alternatives are available.




The results are in for this year’s Sandford Orchards Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards and the 2022 gold winner is Moons Cider with silvers being awarded to Rawlins Family Cider and Artistraw. The Sandford Orchards Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards, now in their second year, are remarkable awards that offer aspiring cider makers advice, guidance and guaranteed listings in the on and off trade and truly support the future of cider in the UK.

Barny Butterfield, Chief Cidermaker at Sandford Orchards and instigator of the awards comments: “Unlike other awards we provide detailed actionable feedback for absolutely everyone who entered, with constructive comments that we hope will help them develop their cider making skills. After the success of the first competition back in 2020, we were thrilled to see so much interest in the awards this year.”

Tom Moon from Moons Cider was delighted to receive the award and says: “Winning the Sandford Orchards Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards’ means a lot to me. With the high standard of ciders that were entered into the competition, it makes all the hard work that goes into cider making worth it when you achieve a Gold award like this.”  

Barny continues: “We had a total of twenty entries, from thirteen different counties, with all styles of cider being represented. Naturally sweet to single variety, session ciders to bottle fermented. The judges were very impressed with the level of quality of the ciders entered – a significant improvement from the inaugural competition. A real compliment to the standard of cider now being produced in the UK.”

The judging panel was a veritable who’s who in the world of cider including The Ciderologist, Gabe Cook and renowned cider maker, Tom Oliver who were joined by drinks writer, Susy Atkins, Rich Clancy from The Stable and George Dart from Darts Farm.

Tom Oliver comments: “I was blown away with these cider makers’ endeavour, intent and inspiration. A hugely impressive group, and a worthy winner – clearly a young man full of ambition and energy.”

Gabe Cook adds: “This year’s awards were a step up from the last outing, in both liquid and packaging. There was a pleasing range of styles and occasions from bone dry to grippy, and keeved. An array of playful techniques and a fantastic geographical spread.”

The prize packages which will be awarded to the winner and two runners up include a 12 month listing at Darts Farm, Devon, a listing at a local Stable Pizza and mentoring from Sandford Orchards, including a tour of their site. The overall winner will also receive a £500 Vigo voucher, a Sandford Orchards collaboration limited edition cider and a visit to the winner’s site by Sandford Orchards’ cider makers to offer practical help and advice about set up.

Barny finishes: “It has been so rewarding to be part of these awards, to see them grow and to meet so many enthusiastic cider makers. My congratulations go to Moons Cider, Rawlins Family Cider and Artistraw. I will be watching with interest to see how they capitalise on the support this fantastic award provides and I am already looking forward to next year’s competition with great excitement.”

For further information on the Sandford Orchards Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards please visit  email or follow Sandford Orchards on Twitter, Facebook and  Instagram.

World’s Biggest Cider Tasting

World’s Biggest Cider Tasting

Gabe Cook

Gabe Cook and The Worlds Biggest Cider Tasting

A UK-based, global cider expert has launched a plan to host the world’s biggest ever cider tasting session, online, next month. Gabe Cook, aka The Ciderologist, has decided to create the event, to be held on Saturday 2nd May, in response to the coronavirus pandemic and to help cider lovers combat the isolation the lockdown is causing.

Mr Cook plans to host the interactive cider tasting and talking session via his @ciderologist Instagram channel at 8pm UK time (GMT+1) and is inviting cider makers and drinkers from all over the globe to join him on the broadcast. Cider makers from as far afield as Australia, USA, Norway, Brazil, Japan, and New Zealand have already signed up and will be chatting live on screen. “Cider is an incredibly social drink with a great community all over the world” said Gabe. “Like many people, I’m trying to find ways to keep that connectivity alive in these tough times and thought it would be fun to try something that has never been done before.”

Mr Cook is encouraging people to join the live broadcast with a glass of their favourite tipple, and to state where they are in the world and what they are drinking, before he then guides the viewers in a giant, collective ‘cheers!’  “I’m going to try and say cheers in the language of every participant of the broadcast, but I may need to brush up on my Norwegian!” Gabe said.

Mr Cook hopes that this global first will bring a dose of much needed fun during these challenging times and will showcase the amazing array of global cider styles out there.  He goes on to say, “There is nothing better than sharing a quality cider in the company of friends, so I hope this tasting can bring us all a little closer together and help us all be able to make some new friends, too.”

Gabe Cook – The Ciderologist:
– Website:
– Insta/FB: @ciderologist
– +44 7393 210 311

World’s Biggest Cider Tasting Instructions:
– Saturday 2nd May 8pm UK (GMT+1)
– Tune in via @ciderologist Instagram channel
– Anyone can join the broadcast
– Bring a cider!
– #worldsbiggestcidertasting