Just a little reminder that you still have a few days left to enter the world's biggest cider competition, if you haven't done so already. It's a great opportunity to grab yourself a gong that can carry a lot of weight. It's also an important showcase for SWECA members in particular, with the popular bar stocked with members' ciders.
Online entries for the world's largest cider competition close this Friday 19th April. Don't miss the boat http://www.bathandwest.com/competitive-classes-entries/123/
The great and the good of the US cider industry gathered in a chilly Chicago on 4th February for its annual Cider Conference. A combination of networking opportunities, educational seminars and social mixers - including the Cider Tour to Virtue Cider (pictured) and Vander Mill Cider - were on offer to the 450 delegates from across the country.
Neil Worley from SWECA member Worley's Cider made the trip to see what\'s been happening in the US cider industry and found a vibrant, progressive and enthusiastic culture.
"Everyone's tremendously excited because the cider market is growing fast and looks set to become a very important element of the US drinks landscape," says Neil. "Although there's plenty of fruit in the country there isn't much bittersweet available, so the current emphasis is on getting trees in the ground or top-worked with cider varieties."
As might be expected though, a lack of cider fruit isn't stopping the entrepreneurial US spirit. The country's recent fascination with craft brewing, coupled with a broader category definition than here in the UK, has seen makers experimenting with a fascinating array of additions, from pomegranate to hops.
The seminar programme extended to six strands covering genaral issues, technical aspects of cider making, business, marketing and sales, academic, orcharding and sensory/tasting events.
All delegates agreed CiderCon 2014 was a resounding success. And the progressive, modern and ambitious character of the US industry, coupled with its powerful historical narrative make it crystal clear that this large group of makers and its industry infrastructure are set to become a major force in world cider.
Ever driven around the South West, seen a plot of under-utilised land and thought, Hmm - could get a few trees in there! Well, Dr Andrew Ormerod is hosting a conference at the Eden Project on just that subject on Friday 7th March, 10am-4:30pm
A wide range of topics will be covered during the day by a number of different speakers, but the main focus of the event is land use and growing and market opportunities for fruit in the South West and Cornwall.
"The event is of interest to growers and potential growers of fruit in Cornwall and other parts of the South West, users of fruit – retailers, caterers and manufacturers and policy makers," says Andrew
Anyone interested in attending should contact contact Andrew on 07908 978208 or
For a full list of the day's events, visit Andrew's blog here.
The Royal Bath & West Society’s “British Cider Championships”, due to be staged for the first time at this year’s show (May 28-31) have won the backing of the National Association of Cider Makers.
The Royal Bath & West Show has been staging competitive classes for cider for well over 100 years, most recently as part of its hugely successful “Orchards and Cider” exhibition, but this is the first time it has organised a genuinely national championship.
Orchards and Cider Chairman, Anthony Gibson, said: “With over 500 entries last year, our cider competitions are already the biggest in Britain, and probably in Europe. So developing them into a national championship seemed the obvious and logical thing to do, in our mission to promote British cider as one of the finest drinks in the world.
“Winning the blessing of the NACM is hugely important because of the recognition which it provides that this will be a genuinely national championship, with industry-wide credibility and prestige. We’re expecting it to generate even more entries and even more publicity for the Champion British ciders.”
For the NACM, chairman Paul Bartlett, said: “British cider is going from strength to strength and we are delighted that the Royal Bath & West is organising these championships to raise the profile of the cider industry and celebrate the excellence of our products.
I would urge all British cider-makers, large and small, to get their entries in, so that the British Cider Championships become the biggest and the best possible showcase for the quality and variety of British cider.”
Entry forms are available on the Bath & West website.
(Photo ©Neil Worley)
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
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.
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.
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.”