Lots of stories start with an apple: Adam and Eve, William Tell, not to mention Steve Jobs – and even ours here at the Lyme Bay Winery.

Twenty years ago we started making ciders using traditional West Country methods, and now have an unrivalled reputation for producing an award-winning range of ciders of the highest standard. These are our Jack Ratt ciders, made from the pressed juice of locally grown traditional cider varieties such as Dabinett, Kingston Black and Yarlington Mill, all of which are sourced from The Somerset Cider Brandy Company.

A few weeks ago our marketing assistant Matt Smith paid them a visit at their home at Burrow Farm, nestled at the base of Burrow Hill in South Somerset, to catch up with owner Julian Temperley – somewhat of a local legend himself.

Historic producer

The Somerset Cider Brandy Company has been in business for over 200 years, and Julian has spent the last 40 of those making the very best cider and cider brandy from the 40 varieties of cider apples that occupy the 180 acres of orchards at the farm.

According to Julian, there couldn’t be a more appropriate place for cider making. “The West Country has a 1,000-year-old tradition of squeezing apples and traditionally cider has occupied a rather unique place here,” he says. “It replaced water as the safe drink for farm-hands and workers, whilst at the same time there are clear historical records of cider featuring on the gentry table. People here have always had a huge pride in the industry and the product, whether or not they actually drink it themselves.”

Balanced blends

Despite the recent popularity of single-variety ciders, Julian believes there is still value in blending a wide range of cider apple varieties in order to achieve a balance in acidity and sweetness. “The ‘Michelin’ variety for example is typically low in acidity, whereas Kingston Black offers a much sharper taste due to its higher levels of tannic acid,” he explains. “When this process is done right, there is no need to use additives in the process, a fact that Somerset Cider Brandy is very proud of.”

Bumper crop

This year has seen another bumper crop of cider apples, and Julian knew as soon as he saw the amount of blossom on the trees earlier in the season that they were in for a lot of hard work later on. “We are looking at processing, in total this year, around 1,000 tons of cider apples,” he says, “which all have to be collected, washed, pressed and fermented using techniques and processes that date back hundreds of years.”

Incredible expertise

And while this might be a lot of work for The Somerset Cider Brandy Company, it’s great news for us and our cider-loving customers.

“Here at Lyme Bay we are very proud to source all of our fresh apple juice from Burrow Farm,” says Matt, “which means that we benefit from their incredible expertise in selecting the apple varieties and pressing the apples to make the very best apple juice which we can then, in turn, use to make the best West Country cider.”

If you’ve never tried our award-winning still and sparkling ciders, or are already a die-hard fan, you can find out more about our range here. You can also see them all at our Winery shop so do pop in if you are passing, or get in touch with our friendly team via email at [email protected] or by calling us on 01297 551355 if you’d like to order by phone.

You can also follow Lyme Bay on Twitter: @LymeBayWineLtd and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.