Cider presses are gearing up for action in a corner of Herefordshire, and Big Apple venues are standing by to welcome visitors to the Marcle Ridge on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 October. The apple harvest will be in full swing – no matter which way you turn in Much Marcle, apples are everywhere! Not to mention pears – perry pears of course.
Nine familiar Big Apple venues, including Woodredding, Lyne Down, Pope’s Perry, Hellens, Gregg’s Pit and Awnells Farm, alongside regular attractions at Westons Cider, are waiting to welcome visitors to enjoy the orchards, see, hear and smell cider being made and taste many different varieties of apples, local ciders, perries and apple juices. And don’t miss apple teas at the Memorial Hall!
This year’s highlights include the ever popular ‘high-altitude’ tutored cider tastings on the Marcle Ridge, giving a hand to press perry pears from the ancient avenue at Hellens Manor, and wheeling along with the Big Apple Bike Ride. The National Fruit Show Education Team make their first visit, tickling taste buds with an apple challenge at Hellens. Practical sessions on tool sharpening, the chance to buy refurbished garden tools and a talk from agronomist Matt Greep on apple pests and diseases are a ‘must’ for those who like to do things for themselves, while Bill Laws will share some of the pomological secrets behind his forthcoming book about the Herefordshire Pomona. Tasty food offers and musical interludes including Uke Can’t Be Serious and Leominster Morris are to be found in and around the orchards. Full details of venues and special events, and advance booking where required, can be found at https://www.bigapple.org.uk/harvestime/
The Big Apple is delighted to be working alongside others this year to place apples right at the heart of Herefordshire under the umbrella of Hereford AppleFest.
A week of cider celebration is going to be held in the first ever British Cider Week, running from 14th to 23rd April 2023.
Cider makers up and down the country will be taking part, from small micro-businesses to household names, from start-ups to those with many generations of heritage.
Martin Berkeley, founder of Pilton Cider, who is getting involved with the celebrations, says, “Spring is a fantastic time to be celebrating cider. When we’re all enjoying warmer weather, there’s no better time to enjoy the delights of this amazing drink.
“It’s the perfect opportunity for cider makers to come together and with one voice let the great British public know about the brilliant ciders that we produce in this country.”
The campaign will be encouraging consumers to explore the diversity of ciders produced in the UK and take part in the many events being organised by producers from the cider heartland of the West Country, the apple gardens of Kent, to urban cider works.
Mark Hopper, Public Affairs Director of the National Association of Cider Makers, endorsing the campaign, adds, “The cider industry has such a rich heritage. We have producers who span generations, as well as newer cider makers entering this exciting world for the first time.
“With such a diverse range of cider styles to explore, with our first British Cider Week we’re looking to encourage consumers to delve more into cider, perhaps by purchasing a pint in their local pub or restaurant, picking up a style they haven’t tried before with their weekly shop, or taking part in some of the events and activities that our producers are going to be organising throughout the week.”
Cider makers across the UK will be taking part in British Cider Week with many different events and activities such as tours, tastings and competitions. Producers participating include:
Pilton Cider, Sheppy’s Cider, Westons Cider, Thatchers Cider, Thistly Cross Cider, Ross Cider, Stones Cider, Olivers Cider and Perry, Somerset Cider Brandy, Little Pomona, Ross on Wye Cider and Greggs Pit Cider & Perry
Martin Berkeley continues, “This is a great opportunity for retailers and distributors, pubs and bars to showcase their cider range, perhaps by teaming up with their local producers to create some great consumer activities, such as cider festivals, special cider menus, or tastings.”
More information about events and those taking part can be found at https://britishciderweek.org.uk/
Anyone wishing to find out more can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
UK cider industry leaders gathered in Westminster on 24 May to recognise the MPs who champion cider companies, the people who work for them, the farmers growing cider apples and the rural communities that benefit from the Great British cider industry.
The event organised by the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM), was hosted by Sir Bill Wiggin MP, President of the All-Party Parliamentary Cider Group (APPCG).
MPs from cider growing areas including the West Midlands and South West were recognised for their long standing commitment to the industry. Cider Makers from across the regions presented MPs with a personalised gift box including a selection of British ciders and a commemorative cider glass.
Speaking at the event, James Crampton, Chair of the NACM commented that “the MPs who were recognised this evening go above and beyond to ensure that our small, rural industry is recognised for its great contribution to the UK and to British culture. It was great to finally gather people together after a gap of more than two years, to say thank you for their support and for making sure that cider making and cider apple growing remain a priority for the government. The continued support of these MPs is critical to sustain the livelihoods of the 11,500 people that rely on the industry”.
Sir Bill Wiggin MP, Member of Parliament for North Herefordshire, said, “it is always a delight to represent and promote Great British cider makers and the fantastic ciders that they produce.
“Cider making contributes to our rural counties including Herefordshire and as the UK are global market leaders we should be proud to support this fantastic British success story.”
Members of Parliament Recognised
Sir Bill Wiggin MP, North Herefordshire
Ian Liddell-Grainger MP, Bridgwater & West Somerset
Rt Hon Jesse Norman MP, Hereford & South Herefordshire
Harriett Baldwin MP, West Worcestershire
Rt Hon Mel Stride MP, Central Devon
Rebecca Pow MP, Taunton Deane
John Penrose MP, Weston-super-Mare
Cider Makers presenting Awards
James Crampton, Chair of the NACM and Corporate Affairs Director at Heineken UK
Helen Thomas, Managing Director at Westons Cider
Martin Thatcher, Managing Director at Thatchers Cider
Barny Butterfield, Owner at Sandford Orchards
Geoff Thompson and his daughter Eliza Thompson, Owner at Oldfields Cider
David and Louisa Sheppy, Managing Director at Sheppy’s Cider
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.