Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Hard Graft

A busy week ahead in readiness for our first sales of the season. The Vilberie and other late pressings of cider need racking off, which will be a full day's work in the ciderhouse. Barreling and boxing up of the Blakeney Red Perry should be less time-consuming, and will also give us the opportunity for more extensive 'sampling', if you know what I mean!

The delightful mild weather today has coincided nicely with this year's grafting efforts. The rootstock arrived last week c/o Mel Wilson, one of the folk behind the Leicestershire Heritage Apple Project, and a keen orchardist and hobby cidermaker herself.

I've grafted nine different Gloucestershire cider varieties onto ten 'half-standard' rootstock, the varieties are listed below. Last year we had beginners luck with our grafting with almost all taking successfully. I'm not expecting a similar result this time, which may be just as well as I'm none too sure where they're all going to go if we have 100% success!

Dymock Red - Very old cider apple which originates from the village of Dymock in the Forest of Dean. Very highly regarded for cider, with juice of sufficient quality and balance to make a good single variety cider.

Foxwhelp - Very attractive apple, yellow striped with crimson. Foxwhelp is a classic Three Counties bittersharp cider apple. Can be very sharp, and usually forms part of a blend. Foxwhelp cider has a distinctive aroma, and only a small quantity is needed in a blend to impart it's unique and highly desirable qualities.

Hagloe Crab - A real rarity this one. Hagloe Crab is a very old vintage quality cider apple, the cider from which was considered to be so good that it could be '...exchanged barrel for barrel for spiritous liquor'. Whether the current examples of this fruit are sufficiently virus-free to live up to this reputation remains to be seen, but I'm really pleased to have this one.

Hens' Turds - Great name, though probably not for a single variety cider! This cider apple is classed as 'Critically Rare' on the Gloucestershire Orchard Group website.

Old Tankard - Sharp Glocs cider apple.

Pedington Brandy - Lovely name. Sweet or bittersweet cider apple.

Port Wine Kernel - Otherwise known as Port Wine Pippin. Sweet cider apple.

Shepperdine Silt - Bittersharp cider apple, similar, though regarded in Glocs as superior, to Kingston Black.

Wick White Styre - Vale of Berkley sharp cider apple.

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