view from orchard of the sun rising over the hill

Signs of Spring in Apple County

Whilst early mornings are still chilly here in Apple County, when the sun comes out, it feels deliciously warm again.  Full full-blown spring seems just touching distance away.

First tastings of the cider straight from the vat
First spring tasting of the developing cider, drawn straight from the vat.

Early spring is a time of growing anticipation for us on the farm.  Ben had his first taste of the new cider vintage at the start of March.  An exciting but nervous moment.  All was well, and he’s very happy with it.  The cider is just where it should be at this stage and the flavour will mature significantly over the next few months.

On the milder days we’ve been enjoying longer walks around the farm and along the River Monnow.  Just like the vats bubbling away in the barn, spring is stirring in the earth, sap rising in the apple trees.  The orchards have been pruned and thinned to let the light in.  So whilst the trees are still bare, they look pleasingly trim and the early buds are just starting to nudge through. With all the recent rain, our small son Francis is in his muddy-puddle element.  He likes to climb up the terraces and squeals with delight when we slip in the mud.  Orchard adventures involve plenty of sticky mud and muddy sticks, in springtime!

As adults we tend to look up to the horizon but Francis makes sure that we never miss delights and intrigue to be found right down by our toes.  We’ve been enjoying the genteel snowdrops and are now spotting primroses nestling in the grassy banks.  But to 2-year-old eyes, an old windfall apple is no lesser treasure; they are to be stamped on for a satisfying squish.  And animal holes of all sizes prompt earnest contemplation of what creatures might live inside.

Like the plants reawakening, I’ve noticed our food tastes are also in transition.  We’re bidding farewell to winter’s hearty casseroles, heavy with root-veg.  Now we crave spring fare with lighter textures, fresher flavours and a more energising colour palette.  Our crisp, sparkling Vilberie cider is fantastic with these fresh spring flavours.

Adding to the excitement of the first signs of spring this year is an early Easter.  Whilst we’ll be fitting in an Easter egg hunt for Francis but we’re still on duty over the Easter weekend!  So whether you’re gathering the family for a traditional roast, or cracking on with bank holiday DIY, do stop by for a cellar door tasting and select the perfect cider to accompany your Easter activities.  The shop is open:
Good Friday 10am to 6pm,
Easter Saturday 10am to 6pm,
Easter Sunday 11am to 5pm,
and Bank Holiday Monday 10am to 5pm.

As a break from all that chocolate, you are very welcome to enjoy the fresh air and spring views on our Orchard walk.  You can pick up a leaflet with a map of the 3 mile route from our cider shop, The Shire Hall in Monmouth, or The Bell Inn at Skenfrith.

Springtime at Apple County is certainly full of promise.  We’re looking forward to sharing the year ahead with you.  Next stop Blossomtime…

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