Cider has a long and rich history which dates back to pre 55 BC. When the Greeks and Romans sailed to the British Isles, they discovered that the locals were drinking a cider-like drink made from apple. Traditionally created for farm labourers, who would sometimes receive this as an incentive on top of their wages, cider making, and more importantly cider drinking, has its roots deeply entrenched in Cornish culture.
Cornwall has a wide selection of local apple varieties to choose from, which makes for a deliciously boozy concoction that is packed full of flavour and character. According to J.M. Trowbridge (1897) ‘good cider is a much greater rarity then good wine’. Thus in this blog post, I will aim to shine a spotlight on the Cornish brewers who have truly mastered their craft.
A small farm in Mithian is home to Touchwood Cornish Cider, lovingly created by Nigel Smith. Since arriving at Woodlands farm in 1984, Nigel has managed to reinstate and nurture nearly 30 varieties of apples. It can also boast its vegan-friendly credentials and the fact that no fertiliser, pesticides or sulphates are used during its production. Their apples are then crushed and pressed, using only natural yeasts to ferment the apple juice. The result is a bright, lightly sparkling medium-sweet cider.
Cornish Orchards was started in the spring of 1992 when Andy Atkinson arrived at Westnorth Manor Farm, part of the Duchy of Cornwall Estate. Andy set out on a mission to replant and rejuvenate three traditional apple orchards, resulting in one of the largest collections of Cornish apple varieties in the county. We stock a variety of products produced at Cornish Orchards, including their delicious range of cider which uses 100% freshly pressed apples.
St Ives Cider
Founded by David and Kate Berwick, St Ives Cider is a family-owned business located in the far west of Cornwall. David was brought up on his parents’ vineyard in Suffolk and brings a unique wine-making perspective to their range of handcrafted ciders. Their eco-friendly approach to cider making has David travelling around with a trailer-mounted press, which helps to reduce food miles and any leftover dry pomace feeds local livestock. We stock their limited edition ‘Forager’ cider is made using fruit foraged from forgotten orchards.
Healeys Cornish Cyder Farm
Using a 16th century press on a 150-year-old farm, Healeys Cornish Cyder Farm has become the largest cyder-maker in Cornwall. Kay and David Healey first learnt how to make cyder in a smallholding near St. Austell, which they brought in a dreadful state of repair. After renovating the dilapidated farm, they set about planting their orchards - 20 acres are scattered with over 3000 trees! Using wind-fallen apples, gathered by hand, Healeys Cornish Cyder is made with produce that is as ripe as can be.
Fowey Valley Cider
Established in 2012, Fowey Valley Cider is created out of a small orchard and idyllic outbuilding in Golant near the town of Fowey, Cornwall. Their Sparkling Vintage Cider is made using only fresh apples from their orchard and evokes a style reminiscent of Champagne. They achieve this through the process of secondary fermentation. A small amount of sugar is added to their once fermented concoction which is then left for another year as the yeast works on the sugar to make alcohol and carbon dioxide.
Made on a family-run vineyard and orchard in Penzance, Cornwall, Polgoon Cider was made after a bad harvest in 2007 and 2008 left John and Kim Coulson with no wine. Like others mentioned in this list, they are environmentally conscious, have a strict recycling policy and are vegan-friendly. Their cider is made using the ‘Methode Traditionelle’, which is also used by French winemakers to produce sparkling wine. The apples are picked and pressed onsite and combined with other carefully selected west country apples.
If you have tempted by anything you have just read, then take a look at our full range of cider here. We also have a fantastic selection of cider hampers that have been expertly arranged by Cornish cider connoisseurs.