The beautiful counties of Herefordshire and Worcestershire are a core region of English food and farming. Fruit trees, hops and many other crops grow very successfully here thanks to a combination of healthy soils and good levels of sunlight. Sixteen Ridges is one of the vineyards that have sprung to prominence over recent years with a clutch of awards and is overseen by genial winemaker Simon Day. In addition to the wines, Simon also makes a superb range of cider, perry, juice and ice cider.
Once Upon A Tree is his multi-award winning brand of craft ciders and perries, made from fruit grown at Dragon Orchard in rural Herefordshire. Launched in May 2008 after Simon saw the potential of using his winemaking expertise for cider production, the quality of fruit in this part of England is central to his vision of creating excellent cider from traditional bittersweet apples. Such has been the success of this business, that the ciders are exported to the USA and Japan, as well as being enjoyed by UK consumers.
Using his winemaking skills to similarly imbue his ciders and perries with the authentic characteristics of Herefordshire-grown fruit, Simon's minimal intervention approach results in a range of beautifully made, flavourful products. Gluten-free, they are also suitable for vegetarian and vegan diets.
There's a lovely vein of fresh pear running through this very refreshing, lightly sparkling example of a truly British drink. It has a gently tart mouthfeel with a touch of lemon sherbet on the mid-to-end palate. This would be perfect with a soft English goat's cheese.
Gently sparkling and dry, but not bone dry, this beautifully balanced cider delivers plenty of fresh apple aroma and flavour with soft tannins and a clean, lengthy finish. A touch of honey and caramel comes through mid-palate, while the acidity is never too sharp. Delicious with fish and chips!
The bittersweet apples play a starring role in this gently sparkling cider with soft, sweet tannins and rounded fruit flavours, complemented by hints of butterscotch and honeycomb. This cider would be a great match for a Ploughman's lunch replete with vintage farmhouse cheddar and apple chutney.
Bottles are available at selected online retailers and in specialist regional stores for an RRP of £2.50 - £3.00 per 500ml bottle.