WELSH CIDER – BACK FROM THE DEAD

In a few short years Wales has become renowned for the quality of its cider and perry. A truly remarkable achievement and is testimony to the passion and skill of Welsh cider and perry makers today.

Wales has a strong tradition of cider and perry making. This is especially true in Monmouthshire and Glamorgan. This would be expected as the former borders on one of England’s cider and perry powerhouses – the three counties region. (In case you are wondering, the three counties are Herefordshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire).

Before the Second World War cider-making in Wales was, in common with England, made on a small scale by farmers as part of their agricultural year. It was usually made for home consumption given to farm hands at harvest time. For an interesting insight see the Welsh Perry and Cider Society (WPCS) Heritage pages.

Changes in agriculture following the Second World War led to less diversification and small-scale farm cider-making went into serious decline. Unlike in neighbouring England, where a few small producers kept on going, it completely died out in Wales.

This makes the revival all the more amazing. It started in the 1980s with a couple of producers but really gathered pace in the late 1990s.

There are now over 30 cider and perry makers in Wales and, although the south naturally dominates, it has now spread all over Wales, though mainly cider as opposed to the rarer perry. Our best known producer is Gwynt y Ddraig which is quite easy to find across Wales and beyond. Some of the others are small-scale and will probably remain so but others have more ambition and one rising star is Blaengawney Cider especially their more recent bottled product Hallets Real Cider.

As Welsh perry and cider is broadly similar to that of the Three Counties, there has been a push to rediscover and use Welsh varieties of cider apple and perry pear to increase the distinctiveness of Welsh cider and perry. A lot of work has been done to identify these and some of the results can be seen here in the form of a Welsh Pomona.

What is also key to the growth of perry and cider making in Wales is the WPCS. It is the most effective producers’ body in the Welsh drinks industry and has the makings of a fully-fledged trade organisation if development were to continue. It organises the Welsh Perry and Cider Festival as well as training in orcharding and cider-making. It has a number of other exciting projects ongoing and has secured Welsh Government funding to take these forward. I hope to be able to report more on these in the future as they develop.

Wales is now a fully-fledged cider and perry making region and the home of some fantastic products. It really is amazing what has happened in such a short space of time. Welsh perry and cider is back and with a bang.

Advertisements

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: