Thoughts on harvest 2023

This season has felt very long indeed. A conglomeration of every sort of weather one could imagine. Driving rain thudded stuck trucks in mud squelched orchards. Yet another pair of walking boots breached, incarcerating wet toes in bitterly cold leather ponds. Unseasonably hot spells; decay in free fall with soft, ripe fruit a feast for the wasps as we hauled sweet smelling sacks onto sticky aching shoulders and dreamt of true, crisp, bright Autumn afternoons. I won’t miss the mornings wrestling the harsh frozen metal of our antique press into life, its hulking frame as reticent as us to heave into action and requiring the breaking of ice as well as skin to extract viscous juice from late season fruit.

Yet, in spite of these challenges, it’s impossible not to find the joy amongst the backbreaking work. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; orchards are quite simply the most spellbinding places on earth. The sheer amount of fruit that these trees produce, bejewelling the orchard floor in layers of bright treasure, the sight of which must surely count among one of the most beautiful of all the natural world, is beyond extraordinary. Every year we learn a little bit more about the trees we care for; their patterns and rhythms, the fluctuation in the fruit they give based on what sort of a year they have lived through and we’re able to apply this knowledge to the juice bubbling gently in the cider shed. Cider begins with tree and soil and we believe a close relationship with both of these things is essential to unlocking the potential in each ferment.

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