The apples are ripening on the trees, the presses are standing by, and the time is fast approaching when the Big Apple has welcomed visitors to the Herefordshire parishes of the Marcle Ridge for thirty years. Having cancelled last year’s event, the community organisation behind the Big Apple has come up with a plan that will see all the usual venues in and around Much Marcle involved over the weekend of 9/10th October. “Within 24 hours of asking them, all nine venues had expressed their enthusiasm to go ahead”, said spokesman Jackie Denman. “When we cancelled last year, we had lots of messages of support telling us that we had made the right decision, but also telling us that we would be much missed. So now we’re busy behind the scenes working on our programme, which will go online on www.bigapple.org.uk on Monday 13th September. We can’t wait to get back!”
This annual opportunity to enjoy the orchards, to see, hear and smell cider being made and to taste many different varieties of apples, local ciders, perries and apple juices has become an established part of the calendar for many people. Familiar Big Apple venues will include Gregg’s Pit, Awnells Farm, Woodredding, Lyne Down, Pope’s Perry and Hellens, alongside regular attractions at Westons Cider.
Sustainability and diversity have been placed at the heart of CraftCon 2021 as it heads online, on 29 and 30 April.
Hosted by the Three Counties Cider & Perry Association, CraftCon is the only professional conference in the UK dedicated to the craft cider sector.
While legendary cider authority Andrew Lea will open the virtual conference taking the audience to where cider apples began, with his journey to the Tian Shan foothills of Kazakhstan, Bill Wiggin MP and Ian Liddell-Grainger MP will join the National Association of Cider Makers’ Mark Hopper and SIBA’s Barry Watts on the final afternoon on a panel exploring to explore the case for duty reform.
“We are delighted that Eleanor Léger from Eden Ciders, the new president of the American Cider Association, will be joining us to speak on ice cider,” says TCCPA chair Simon Day, Once Upon A Tree. In addition, taking advantage of the virtual nature of the conference, US cider luminaries sharing their wisdom with CraftCon delegates include Ria Windcaller, MC of leading podcast CiderChat, Brian Rutzen, aka Cider Brian, and ANXO Cidery’s Sam Fitz.
Sessions over the two days will encompass sustainability in all its forms, from orchard biodiversity with a panel chaired by James Marsden, Gregg’s Pit, through to economic sustainability, with a panel featuring producers of all sizes, including Barny Butterfield, Sandford Orchards, and Polly Hilton, Find & Foster.
Cider production features strongly, with sessions including the joy of single variety ciders, with the Johnson family, Ross on Wye Cider & Perry, what makes great dry cider, chaired by James Finch, the Cider Critic, the technical challenges posed by kegging, chaired by Gabe Cook, The Ciderologist, and co-ferments and cider hybrids, with Pilton Cider’s Martin Berkeley and Once Upon A Tree’s Simon Day.
Chris Atkins, Ragged Stone Cider & Perry, organiser of the Perry Festival at the Three Counties Autumn Show, will share his passion for perry, talking delegates through the unique flavour and heritage proposition it offers while also shining a light on its future.
The pan-industry group Cider Women will take the gender debate one step further with an interactive session focusing on how all can work together “to shape the future and grow this dynamic and creative industry“. Meanwhile, Helen Anne Smith, founder of the Burum Collective, will be joined by Ren Navarro, of Beer. Diversity. North America, to focus on Improving Diversity, Inclusion and Equality.
“Alongside these sessions will be opportunities for networking chats, an online trade show and we’ll be bringing tasting sessions too,” says Simon Day.
A CraftCon 2021 Tasting Box is being put together. “These products will relate to the speakers and their talks,” says Lucie Mayerová, TCCPA communications officer. “While we can’t have our popular bottle share, we want to make sure that we offer a full experience and that all enjoy the event as much as possible.”
“When CraftCon started in 2019, it was a landmark moment for UK craft cider producers – finally we had an event for cidermakers, from cidermakers,” says Albert Johnson, Ross on Wye Cider & Perry Co and TCCPA secretary. “The technical and business knowledge and expertise that was shared and the connections forged was of enormous benefit to all who attended. I’m so happy we are able to have that experience again, this time online, to help bring cidermakers from all over the country – and indeed the world – together.”
All sessions will be recorded and accessible by ticket holders afterwards.
“CraftCon will help attendees become more informed, make better business decisions, and ultimately, produce better quality cider for the drinker at home,” says Albert Johnson. “I can’t wait!”
The TCCPA is most grateful to the National Association of Cider Makers and CraftCon’s confirmed Gold sponsors Vigo Ltd, Lallemand and Core Equipment. Without their support, this event would not be possible.
For further information, head to craftcon.co.uk
Tickets cost £25 for members of TCCPA and £40 for non-members, which include 1-year membership.
The apples are coming in, the presses are at work, and it’s almost that time when the Big Apple has welcomed visitors to the Herefordshire parishes of the Marcle Ridge for the past thirty years. But, sadly, not in 2020. The event, which was scheduled for 10th and 11th October, has been cancelled. The community organisation behind the Big Apple had come up with a programme and a delivery plan designed to keep the event within COVID-19 secure guidelines, but the latest changes proved a step too far.
“We’ve been outrun by the virus”, said spokesman Jackie Denman.
“We’d like to thank the Public Health team at Herefordshire Council for their advice and support – they really tried to help us make it happen. In the end, the decision to cancel was our own. The timing just wasn’t right.”
Messages of support followed the announcement late last week.
“Everyone agreed that we had made the right decision, but they also took the trouble to tell us that we would be much missed.”
This annual opportunity to enjoy the orchards in this special corner of Herefordshire, to see, hear and smell cider being made and to taste many different varieties of apples, local ciders, perries and apple juices has become an established part of the calendar for many people. Apple growers and cider makers depend heavily on events for sales of their produce, and almost all had already been cancelled.
“We tried so hard to keep the Big Apple going, especially because we were almost the only apple event in this part of the country that was still in this year’s calendar. We’ve put a special area on our website at https://www.bigapple.org.uk/harvestime2020/, with information about the local producers that would have been there, and some ways to get hold of their produce.”
Many familiar Big Apple venues are there, including Gregg’s Pit, Woodredding, Lyne Down, Pope’s Perry, Westons, Dragon Orchard and Jus Apple Juice.
The Big Apple has started to plan its events for 2021, including Blossomtime on 2nd/3rd May and Harvestime on 9/10th October.
This coming weekend should have been the Big Apple’s thirtieth year of running Blossomtime in Putley, but of course it won’t be happening. This annual opportunity to enjoy the orchards full of apple blossom and to taste many different local ciders, perries and apple juices has become an established part of the calendar in this corner of Herefordshire. This time of year sees the new product from last year’s harvest becoming ready to drink – and there’s no stopping it! Many craft makers depend on local events and tourism and hospitality businesses to sell their cider, perry and apple juice – and so they are taking a big hit from lockdown. This year’s blossom is the start of next year’s cider – but first there is a need to sell last year’s stock.
For the past thirty years, the Big Apple has been organising community events to support their local orchards and apple, cider and perry producers. Normally, Putley Parish Hall would be heaving with visitors buying cider, perry and apple juice next weekend. The nine producers who had arranged to be there are working hard to find extra ways to make their drinks available within the licensing laws – whether that is through online orders, local deliveries, click and collect, farm shops and village stores. The Big Apple is supporting them through a special information area on their website at https://www.bigapple.org.uk/blossomtime-2020/
Many regular Big Apple venues are to be found there, including Once Upon a Tree, Gregg’s Pit and Woodredding Farm, Pope’s Perry, Yew Tree Farm and Jus Apple Juice. And two special guests who each won awards at last year’s Big Apple Cider and Perry Trials: Bartestree Cider, last year’s Champion Perrymaker, and Halfpenny Green Cider, winner of the bottle fermented/conditioned cider.