Devon and Somerset are home to a wide variety of apple trees, both traditional and modern cider apple varieties. Some popular varieties grown in this area include Kingston Black, Yarlington Mill, and Dabinett. These apples are carefully selected for their unique flavours and suitability for cider production.
You’ll find both small-scale family-run operations and larger commercial enterprises in the area. You only have to go as far as Kentisbeare to see many apple orchards boasting both green and red fruits which, at this time of year are almost ready to harvest. They certainly do make the area very picturesque!
Many cider makers adhere to traditional methods of cider production. This often involves hand-picking apples, crushing them using old-fashioned cider presses, and fermenting the juice in wooden barrels or stainless steel tanks. Traditional cider-making techniques can take several months to complete. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in craft cider making in the Westcountry. In addition, new and innovative flavours are being developed, with the latest trend being for rosé or ‘blush’ ciders.
Cider Tasting and Tours
Devon and Somerset are home to numerous cider houses, where visitors can learn about the process and sample a wide range of ciders. These establishments often offer tours and tastings, providing a unique opportunity to experience local “cider culture” first hand. Our suggestions for tours nearby:
Sandford Orchards, based near Crediton are based in the oldest workings cider mill in the UK. They offer visits and tours on their website. Look out for their ‘Devon Red’ cider, a favourite now available on tap in many local pubs.
Lyme Bay Winery’s cellar doors are open Monday to Saturday. Whilst well-known for their amazing range of wines, including elderflower, mead and many others, they also make cider. Their 5 year old Somerset cider brandy is something of a treat!
Book a tour of Sheppy’s Farm with a dedicated knowledgeable tour guide. Enjoy wonderful, locally sourced food in their cafe and restaurant too.
There are various local events celebrating cider-making too.
Next month, the National Trust at Killerton invite you to celebrate Orchard Fortnight. Follow an orchard trail, help to harvest apples for cider production, watch apple-pressing and play apple-related games. If you’re on holiday in Devon in April, why not check out British Cider Week?
Cider and Local Produce in our Shop
Naturally, cider goes well with a lot of our local foods, especially the traditional pasty!
We stock Courtney’s Cider in the shop, and also some Norcott’s Cider. Tricky Cider is craft Somerset cider made not far from us on the Blackdown Hills. Ventons Devon Cyder is made from apples grown in vintage orchards. Take a look out for other local ciders on sale at farm shops, farmers’ markets and in the drinks section in the local supermarkets. Let us know your favourites!