Making Vale Cider

Cider has been made in Wales for hundreds of years. Excellent Welsh craft cider depends upon starting with excellent local Welsh apples and close attention to all aspects of the craft and science of  the cider-making process.

We grow our apples in our Welsh orchards with a mix of varieties that allows us to make a range of real cider styles from traditional tannic ciders to lighter ciders. The precise taste varies from year to year according to the weather we have experienced in South Wales throughout the growing season. Even within South Wales each orchard experiences somewhat different conditions in terms of temperature, wind and sunlight – and, of course, soil varies too. In addition to the attention to detail, these variables are what make our Welsh craft ciders so very different from commercial ciders. The variations from season to season are part of the interest and appeal of real craft Welsh ciders.

Cider-making is seasonal. Our earliest varieties, like Katy, are harvested in early September and our latest various, like Kingston Black are harvested in November.

Apples are washed and sorted soon after harvesting and milled in a scratter to produce pomace.

The pomace is wrapped in cloths and put in layers between wooden slatted boards to make “cheeses” on the press.

The juice is pressed out of the pomace and collected in a tank.

After pressing the dry pomace is fed to our pigs.

The juice is transferred from the collecting tank into fermenting tanks that have an airlock to allow carbon dioxide to escape but prevent oxygen causing spoilage.

The fermentation proceeds over a few weeks.

When the fermentation stops the cider is transferred (“racked”) into a maturing tank and solids (“lees”) that are left behind are discarded.

The cider matures for several months.

In the Spring we taste our base ciders decide what combinations we will use to make that year’s ciders. This a rather a fun time for us!

Our base ciders are blended and sugar is used to adjust sweetness to the desired levels before bottling our final product craft Welsh ciders.