Cider-making is an honest mix of craft and graft. You need patience, and a meticulous approach to quality. Working on a farm in all weathers, a sense of humour often helps too. But blue-skied blossom days, or observing a quiet smile and nod of appreciation when someone tastes your product, provide immense reward.
As a family, we feel lucky to live in this lush, rolling landscape. Steph loves walking the orchards and hillsides with the family Labrador and Ben is in his element, wild swimming in the local rivers. We want to put this special place – Monmouthshire, the apple county of Wales – back on the map for producing some of the finest cider in the world. In fact the time is ripe for a re-birth of cider-making in Wales. We are excited to be part of this, and want to help more people discover great Welsh cider.
How do we do it?
Cider apples come in a wonderful array with hundreds of shapes, colours and sizes. Each variety brings its own distinct character to cider. If you respect the natural alchemy of cider-making, allowing enough time for the flavour notes to slowly reveal themselves, we believe that each cider apple has a unique song to sing.
Making cider from fresh juice, there is one production each year, which starts when the fruit is harvested in the autumn. We are 100% committed to this juice and have just one opportunity to make a vintage of delectable ciders and perries for the following year.
We add winemakers’ yeast to the fresh juice and it is stored in the barn where it slowly ferments. You can hear it bubbling away, slower and quieter when the temperature drops in deepest winter. We allow over 6 months for our ciders to fully develop and mature through a slow, cold fermentation.
As the first blossom is finally appearing on the apple trees, the cider in the barn is racked off into a new vessel for a secondary fermentation. This last stage gives smoothness and balance to the cider, by which the full complexity of flavour can shine through.
As cider-makers we are part of a reassuringly timeless cycle in the orchard – bud, blossom, fruit, and harvest. Yet living this way makes us more acutely aware of how each year differs: more or less sun and rain, hotter or colder, seasons transitioning early or late. At harvest time, the fruit reflect this annual weather-scape and so each year brings new challenges and opportunities for us as cider-makers. We look forward to sharing these adventures in cider with you on this blog.