But there’s also a number of wine and cider makers in the area that may not be quite so familiar to those outside the area, but any cider lover who has not experienced a pint of cloudy wet and warm Devon nectar has simply not lived.
The region boasts numerous breweries and cider makers, as well as a few notable vineyards. The latter includes Camel Valley Vineyard which has been producing award-winning, world-class wines from the heart of Cornwall. The company is famous for its Camel Valley Pinot Brut, and what makes the produce so good is the vineyard’s location, on “sun-drenched slopes near the famous Camel River; excellent grapes that perfectly suit the soil and climate.”
Moving up the country, Gregg’s Pit Cider & Perry is an award-winning producer of craft cider and perry, the making of which uses 100% of the fruit juice from the grower’s own organically managed orchards. Interestingly, the making of the beverages are manufactured using traditional techniques, where the apples and pears are picked by hand from the ground, the fruit is chopped to a pulp, then taken to the stone press and tipped onto a press cloth. The cloth is folded up to form a ‘cheese’ with a heavy board put on top then two people turn the screws at either side of the press to get the pulp out. Then it is left to ferment.
Now no visit to the West Country is complete without a visit to or at least a taste of Orchard Pig ! The Somerset company is renowned for its apple juice and ciders. The latter are made from a mix of over 10 varieties of hand-graded apples, harvested from unsprayed and naturally maintained orchards and then matured for at least six months before they are ready for consumption.
An 18th century coachyard is home to Sharpham Vineyard and Dairy, overlooking the River Dart in Devon. At the forefront of vine growing and wine making in the UK for over 25 years, Sharpham’s wines are “stylish and offer intense fruit flavours and aromas, which are made from carefully selected grape varieties grown on both our own sheltered slopes overlooking the River Dart, and occasionally from other carefully selected vineyards across England.”
Finally, why not try a gin and tonic from Bramley and Gage who use only real, whole fruit sourced as locally as possible on its fruit farm in Gloucestershire. “Letting (the fruit) ripen fully and naturally on the bush, to using only the varieties that give the best flavour” is the key to the company’s fruit liqueurs, gins and brandies.
Whatever you are planning this summer, it is worth a trip to the West Country to sample the array of beverages for which the region is famous. Beer, wine and cider is abundant from Herefordshire right down to Cornwall and it’s always good to have regional specialities on the menu.