The buds are starting to burst on the apple trees, last autumn’s cider is getting ready to be tasted, and the time is fast approaching for Blossomtime in and around Putley in Herefordshire where the Big Apple has been welcoming visitors for thirty years. Having cancelled this spring event in 2020 and 2021, the community organisation behind the Big Apple is delighted to be able to invite them back again on Sunday 1 and Monday 2 May. “When we were able to hold our autumn event last October, visitors were enthusiastic about the opportunity to enjoy being out and about in the countryside”, said spokesman Jackie Denman. “Our cider and perry community responded so positively when we managed to arrange a delayed Big Apple Cider and Perry Trials in July 2021. Now we can bring it all together again, with a Grand Cider Tasting at Putley Parish Hall, time spent under the apple trees at Dragon Orchard, and one-off events at Court Farm Aylton and Pixley Festival Church. The full programme is available online at www.bigapple.org.uk. We can’t wait to get back!”
As well as opportunities to taste a whole range of entries to the Cider and Perry Trials, cider and perry on sale will include artisan makers Artistraw Cider and Perry, Bartestree Cider, Gregg’s Pit Cider and Perry, Halfpenny Green Cider Company and Pope’s Perry. Highlights include ‘#RethinkCider’, a talk from Jane Peyton, the UK’s first accredited ‘pommelier’ and founder of the School of Booze, and drop-in printmaking with Laughing Betsy, supported by the Elmley Foundation, using ‘kitchen lithography’ and inspired by objects and images on loan from local families associated with cidermaking and apple growing. Three guided walks each day will tell the stories of the orchards in and around Putley – will it be Norman’s Gap, Dorothy’s Delight or Nigel’s Pride? And, of course, there will be the usual delicious lunches and teas (and this time a brunch) provided by local community groups.
Secretary, Big Apple Association Ltd.
Tel. 01531 670544
The Big Apple Cider and Perry Trials have taken place in early May each year since 1992 – until last year! Determined not to miss another event, the Committee decided there must be a way to make them happen. In a normal year, Putley Parish Hall would be full of cidermakers jostling with each other to judge their anonymous entries but in 2021 this wasn’t going to be possible. So the Trials were delayed to July and volunteers recruited to run them under ‘hospitality’ rules, outside and with a reduced number of entries. The event took place on Saturday 17th July in bright sunshine in the lovely surroundings of Dragon Orchard, Putley, by kind invitation of Norman and Annie Stanier.
The results of the original peer-judge competition were announced the following morning, to a gathering of entrants, volunteers and the Big Apple Committee and live-streamed online to those unable to be there. Chairman Steve Swaithes thanked David Hewitt – the man behind the camera – for all his work in devising the online system to manage entries and scores. Ragged Stone Cider was crowned Champion Cidermaker, while Dave and Fiona Matthews of Bartestree Cider Company were presented with the trophy for Champion Perrymaker. Lucie Mayerova of Naked Orchards won Best Product in Show for her Draught Sweet Perry – it is just three years since Lucie first entered as a novice perrymaker!
Full results are available at:
The Big Apple is now looking forward to October, when it is hoped to run Harvestime events in and around Much Marcle over the weekend of 9th and 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.