A SMALL family-run cidermaker, which was set up near Hereford five years ago, has swept the board at this year’s annual Big Apple Cider and Perry Trials.

Bartestree Cider Company swept the board taking the two major titles at the event in Putley Parish Hall which attracted 65 cider and perrymakers, who submitted 180 entries.

Instead of having a panel of expert judges, it is a peer-judged contest where all the entries are judged by all the entrants in the competition.

Bartestree has enjoyed considerable success at the Big Apple event in recent years. It was voted Champion Cidermaker and Champion Perrymaker this year. Last year it took the cidermaker crown and in 2016 was awarded the top perrymaker accolade.

Bartestree Cider Company is run by Dave Matthews and his wife Fiona. It makes small-batch, pure-juice ciders and perries from local Herefordshire fruit, with minimum intervention that allows the true character of the fruit to shine through. It specialises in producing single-varietal ciders and perries, mainly on draught, with a few vintages bottled.

Gregg’s Pit Cider and Perry of Much Marcle won the best product in the show with its Draught Sweet Perry. Gregg’s Pit was voted Champion Perrymaker in 2017 and was granted EU Protected Geographical Indications for all its products in 2003.

The Novice Cider Class was won by Lucie Mayerova, who also took a third prize in the main competition for her Draught Medium Perry. The full list of winners is available by visiting https://www.bigapple.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/public_result_list_2018.pdf

Jackie Denham, secretary of the Big Apple Association, said: “Missing from this year’s proceedings was founder member of the Big Apple, Jean Nowell, whose death last November was lamented by the many cider and perrymakers who she inspired and supported over the years.

“The Cider and Perry Trials were started in 1992 at Jean’s suggestion as a peer judged competition, in order to give cider and perrymakers an opportunity to share ideas and learn from each other and to taste each other’s products.”

She added that members of the public flocked to taste all the entries over the following two days, as part of Blossomtime in Putley held last Saturday and Sunday (May 6 and 7).

They were able to add to the experience with purchases from eight local cidermakers and tutored tastings by Gabe Cook.

Hundreds of visitors enjoyed walks through the orchards, where the blossom made a last-minute appearance prompted by the sunny weather over the previous week.

A number of local groups were raising funds, including Aylton Church, Tarrington Brownies, Little Marcle Church, Putley Parish Hall and Putley WI.

During their appearance on Sunday, Leominster Morris danced their blessing in memory of Jean Nowell and the many happy visits they made to Lyne Down in the early days of the Big Apple.

The next Big Apple event will be Harvestime in Much Marcle on October 13 and 14. This will be a packed weekend with lots of events for those interested in apples. More details will be available closer to the date.