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2018 A Vintage Year

Harvesting cider apples in Devon 18-12-2018

Proper Cold, Proper Wet, Proper Hot, Proper Apples

This year produced some of the most impressive juice that we’ve ever seen, and all thanks to the weather in Devon getting everything right for us.

Cider apple trees need a good dose of winter chill, it resets their calendar, freshens up the soil, reduces damaging bugs and prepares the tree for springing into the growing year. The soggy rains of early and mid-spring topped up the water table ensuring that even the blast of continental summer we received would not cause suffering in the orchard. Quite the opposite. The dry spell kept scab and canker at bay, and the trees soaked up the thermal energy, super-charging their fruit with sweetness and flavour.

Then harvest arrived – like a bullock in a tea shop and here we are. We prepare for harvest every year – and every year it throws something else at us. But as usual the team pulled together, there were times that even I was manning the press and washing in apples – not something our cider makers normally let me do. I don’t think they trust me with their shiny kit!

The great quality of fruit makes our plans for next years ciders all the more exciting. There will be one-off vintages. We’ve had several spontaneously keeve – and our on-leaf fermentations are turning up great results so far in the trials.

2018 was a stupendous year in terms of recognition for the team. We are amazingly humbled and proud to have been recognised in such elevated company – and in common with so many others who have been lucky as they have, it sharpens our resolve to maintain our standards and ambitions.

We released two new ciders in 2018 – and there are at least four we’re planning on unveiling in 2019. Along with a very (very) exciting new joint venture with our long time friends at Darts Farm. We want to make our cider making more accessible and share our ideas and collaborations directly with the most engaged food and drink audience anywhere in the UK. So during the summer of 2018, we began our plans to create a new cidery at Darts Farm. We’re turning the cidery inside out. For every cider we make at Darts we will be doing so right under the watchful eye of anyone who’s interested! The cider making process will be on display – and our most innovative and cutting edge products happening in plain sight. Alongside the cidery we’ll be planting a new cider orchard at the farm, which will also be accessible – pruning demonstrations and general orchard husbandry and management, as well as fruit selection, harvesting milling and pressing.

Our on-leaf fermentation technique has given all cider makers a new style to experiment with and perfect. We will carry on working with leading cider makers globally to bring the best, most exciting ideas and styles into a contemporary space and proudly continue the long tradition of Devon’s heritage of pioneering cider making and orcharding. We are always bursting with things to communicate about Devon’s most important export.