Herefordshire has plenty of reasons to celebrate English apples, orchards and cider and the annual Big Apple weekend offers a special opportunity to enjoy the autumn countryside on the Marcle Ridge. The event is based on nine venues in and around Much Marcle – and cider and perry making will be in full swing at seven of them! Woodredding, Avenue Cottage, Westons, Gregg’s Pit…… each has their own traditions, style, scale and method of production and a different orchard setting, and there will be plenty of opportunities to taste, buy and, in some cases, to try your hand. Lyne Down, a firm favourite as a venue in the early days of Big Apple, makes a welcome return as Lyne Down Organics, while a travelling horse-drawn press will be paying a visit to Awnells Farm. The Big Apple is not only about cider – a ‘Feast of Apples’ at Hellens will feature displays, tastings and sales of some of the less usual dessert and culinary apples, single variety apple juice, and Marcher Apple Network will be present throughout the weekend to identify apples. For the first time, the Big Apple will be hosting Herefordshire Beekeepers Association Annual Honey Show (Saturday only).
The 2017 programme also includes some novel tutored cider tastings, including ‘high altitude’ tastings guided by Gabe Cook, the Ciderologist, at three venues with amazing views over the Herefordshire countryside. Gabe will also be joining with James Marsden for a ‘vertical tasting’ of three different vintages of a single variety perry – under the very tree at Gregg’s Pit that keeps on providing the fruit! The Big Apple is not all about tradition, and two events in particular will be looking to the future. Charlotte Selvey will be sharing the results of her work to explore natural pest control in orchards, and a talk on DNA fingerprinting will show how it is helping to iron out some of the challenges of apple identification – and creating some new puzzles at the same time! On Saturday, a newly-carved stone pear commissioned from sculptor Max Nowell will be unveiled at Gregg’s Pit by local cider hero Jean Nowell – who also happens to be the sculptor’s mother.
Orchards will provide the setting for music and dancing, with visits from Leominster Morris and ukulele band ‘Uke Can’t be Serious’. Plenty of home-made and local food on offer – including apple cake of course!
A full programme of events can be found at www.bigapple.org.uk