For city dwellers a visit to the countryside is an opportunity not just to admire the scenery and wildlife, but also to understand the work that lies behind the serried ranks of fruit and veg, meat and drink on the supermarket shelves. The story is told of the Inner London children who were so surprised when they first learnt that milk actually came from cows!
More and more of our agricultural producers are ready to show off their expertise to the passing tourist, and to make a visit both fun and informative.
An important part of the economy of South West England is cider-making. And many of the producers are ready to open their doors to visitors and show them how this great traditional drink of England is made. And, if you don't know cider like you should do, they will introduce you to it with a glass or two!
Cheddar. Town that gives its name to the world-famous cheese
Thatchers Cider Co, Sandford, Winscombe. Started production in 1904 for local consumption. Much of the processing still uses traditional methods with maturation in large oak vats though they produce modern, innovative ciders. Open Mon - Sat 8.30 - 6; Sun 10 - 1
Burrow Hill Cider, Kingsbury Epsicopi. Award winning cider and apple juice farm that has been around for 150 years. Uses the "champagne method" for disgorging the sediment in his bottles - that is, getting the sediment to the top by upending the bottles, freezing the top, opening and pop! Out comes all the solids. Julian Temperley will tell you that this method was invented by Lord Scudamore in 1632, before the civil war, and long before it was adopted by French champagne producers!
Open Mon - Sat, 9 - 5.30, all year round.
Perry's Cider Mills. Cider making in 16th century thatched barn using old style wooden barrels. Countryside museum. Open all year, weekdays 9 - 5.30, Sat 9.30 - 4.30, Sun 10 -1.
Somerset Distillery, Kingsbury Episcopi. It is not just cider that comes from apples. If it can be fermented it can be distilled, and here they make the delicious apple brandy, eau de vie and also an aperitif, Kingston Black. Open Mon - Sat, 9 - 5.30 all year.
Sheppy's Cider Farm Centre, Bradford-on-Tone. Sheppy's have been making award winning ciders for over 200 years. There are 47 acres of orchards to wander around, with picnic area and rural life museum, There is a video of the cidermaker's year to see and a public viewing gallery overlooking the presses. Open all year, Mon - Sat 8.30 - 6; Sun (easter - xmas) 12 - 2. Licensed tea rooms June - Sept.
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