The wine of Wild Orchards
The fruit for our cider and perry is picked from a handful of traditional orchards nestled between the River Severn and the Cotswold Hills. Historically this whole area was awash with fruit trees and cider making was an integral part of the rural economy. Today most of the orchards and the cider makers have disappeared but we are doing our bit to keep this rich heritage alive by picking from the remnants of a few wild and unkempt orchards. We use apples and pears that would otherwise go to waste and in return do a little pruning and replanting to help tame and restore them so that their beauty and bounty can be enjoyed by future generations.
The traditional orchard has been a cornerstone of our rural scenery for generations. Being a half way house between field and woodland, between hunting and gathering, wonderfully organised yet wild and idyllic. A place where man has worked with nature to create a landscape which is both beautiful and highly productive.
A traditional orchard usually consists of large mature tress spaced some eight yards apart in a grid. This allows enough space for the trees to flourish whilst the light that falls between them is enough to nourish the pastures below. The livestock which graze this pasture benefit from the fruit, shade and shelter the trees provide whilst insects and birds thrive undisturbed in the canopy helping to pollinate the fruit. This completes a harmonious and balanced ecosystem which has supplied us with fruit, honey, milk, meat and romance for centuries.
Sadly they under threat and in some parts of the country as much a three-quarters our traditional orchards have been lost with many left abandoned and potentially hundreds of unique fruit varieties being lost forever.
We have been fortunate enough to meet and work with several land owners who appreciate the value of their traditional orchards and are keen to see the fruit they produce put to a good use. We pick from a few orchards in and around North Nibley, Alkington, Sheperdine and Oldbury, always under the watchful gaze of Tyndale Monument. We are always looking for other orchards, large or small, and new varieties of apples (and pears!) in order to increase the quality, quantity and range of products we can make in the future. We would be very interested to hear from anyone who has, or knows of any fruit that may otherwise go to waste.
We aim to restore value to our traditional orchards helping to preserve them and their rare wildlife and apples varieties for future generations to enjoy. We have already replanted one orchard with a dozen ‘Foxwhelps’, a distinctive, traditional Gloucestershire cider apple and ultimately we aim to plant a ‘museum’ orchard to help preserve our local varieties.