South West of England Cidermakers’ Association

Supporting the region’s growers and makers

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Winter Meeting 2016

SWECA members met at Green Valley Cyder, Darts Farm in Devon on 17th March for the 2016 Winter meeting.

A packed programme provoked lively discussion on a number of topics including the proposed PDO for Devon cider, Alcohol Wholesaler Registration Scheme and the excise levels for sparkling cider.

Andrew Lea gave an informative scientific presentation on how flavours are developed in cider during storage, a great insight for all into how common off flavours develop and how they can be controlled.

Fen Tyler, Chief Executive of the NACM covered the recent budget, an update on the 70HL exemption and thoughts on the new sugar tax and calorific values being included on labels.

During the meeting the annual cider competition took place with judges Bill Bradshaw and Chris Coles selecting the 2016 champion. The overall winner was Harry's Cider, pictured are Harry Fry and partner Ali with the SWECA cup and certificate.

Cider Competition results

1st Twinways Cider, Mark Rogers
2nd Green Valley Cyder, Chris Coles
3rd Copse House Cider, Bob Chaplin

1st Harry's Cider, Harry Fry
2nd Courteneys of Whimple, Paul Courteney
3rd Blackmore Vale Cider, Alan Berry

1st Pilton Cider, Martin Berkeley

National award for Devon cider retailer

A Devon-based cider maker is celebrating its silver jubilee year in style after winning a national retailing award.

The Green Valley Cyder Barn and Ale House retail outlet based at Dart’s Farm at Topsham near Exeter has won the nationally recognized Drinks Retailing Award for Independent Cider Retailer of the Year 2014.

The Cyder Barn has grown from a small outdoor unit selling only cider pressed on site and made only from Devon apples to a large in-store retail outlet stocking 180 ciders and perrys from the UK and across Europe. It is now probably the largest retailer of ciders and perrys in the country and is renowned for its cider tastings held in store every day and for producing bespoke blends to suit individual tastes.

Nick Pring and Chris Coles started the business when the famous Whiteway’s Cider Co. closed its Whimple factory in 1989. They attribute their success to the significant growth in cider sales alongside a growth in interest in local artisan products.

Nick said: “The last 12 months have seen an increase in cider sales of 21% reflecting the increase in average customer spend. Our range of stock has been increased year on year to include ciders from all the south western counties of England and now also includes a collection of French ciders. The noticeable increase in sales not only includes our own range of Green Valley Ciders but also Sandford Orchard, Perry’s, Cornish Orchard, Sheppy’s, Weston’s and Thatcher’s.”

“I think the judges liked the idea that we support local cider makers, encourage new makers by providing an outlet for their product. and what is more, customers can see how cider is made.  This award recognises a retail outlet celebrating the British Cider Heritage and upholding the diversity and quality of both large and small cider makers.”

Winter Meeting 2014

SWECA held its winter meeting on Thursday March 20th at Thatchers Cider by kind invitation of Martin and John Thatcher. Sixty five people attended to listen to a packed programme of talks, followed after lunch by a tour of Thatchers cider-making facility.

Jez Howatt introduced his ideas for a PGI for Traditional English Cider and Perry, this certainly gave food for thought and members were asked contact Jez on  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.

Thatchers Technical Manager Paul Dockerty gave a detailed presentation entitled Avoidance of Off Flavours in Cider, explaining the types of unwanted flavours that can be produced during fermentation and maturation and their respective causes. Paul emphasised that good hygiene and the avoidance of air contact post fermentation were of paramount importance.

Robert Fovarque, Agronomist with Pearce Seeds, gave a talk entitled Cider Apple Trees - Post Wet Weather highlighting signs to watch for and actions to be taken in the coming weeks and months following this winter's very wet weather. Damage may not be seen until June or July.

During the meeting John Thatcher and Richard Johnson judged members ciders in the first SWECA cider competition. Twenty one ciders were entered and before the presentations John Thatcher remarked that the ciders were of variable quality, some very good.

Prize Winners
1st Green Valley Cyder
2nd The Tricky Cider Co.
3rd St Ives Cider

1st Harrys Cider
2nd Shepton Mallet Cider Mill
3rd Worleys Cider

No prizes awarded

Champion Cider - Harrys Cider

The SWECA AGM will be be held on Thursday 25th September at Green Valley Cyder in Devon.

Helping the region’s growers and makers

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Photography by Bill Bradshaw

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