Westons Cider Mill, Much Marcle, Herefordshire
Herefordshire produces a staggering 60% of the world’s cider. At the heart of the county is Westons Cider Mill, an independent family-owned business that’s rich in cider-making history and heritage.
Visitors on the Westons Cider Mill Tour at Much Marcle near Ledbury
Drive along the winding country lanes of Herefordshire and you’ll see apple orchards and signs pointing to small independent cider mills. Whilst many are open at ad hoc times for tastings and sales, it’s Westons Cider Mill in the delightfully-named Much Marcle that is best set up for tours. I was joined by American tourists, locals and cider tasting enthusiasts for the hour-long tour. It strikes just the right balance between story-telling, technical ‘know how’, behind-the-scenes viewing and cider tasting. I came home with a taste for a new summer favourite – Rosie’s Pig Flat Tyre – a cloudy cider with rhubarb that’s available from April-September.The Foodie Travel Guide
- Tour the cider mill
- Eat in the restaurant
- Take Afternoon Tea
- Buy cider from the shop
- Visit for the Big Apple Weekend
Discover Westons Cider Heritage
The tour of Westons Cider Mill begins in front of ‘The Bounds’, a handsome 400 year-old farmhouse surrounded by apple and perry pear orchards. Back in 1878, it was where Henry Weston lived and worked as a tenant farmer. His farm workers must have had a merry time working in the adjoining fields because a generous six pints of cider was handed out to them at the start of every day in mini barrels known as ‘Costrells’. It seems that Henry was both an entrepreneurial farmer but a lucky one too. The railways arrived in nearby Dymock (now the home of Stinking Bishop cheese), at just the right time and conveniently, his neighbour was a Member of Parliament, both key enablers for helping him to expand his business. He’d be proud to see that over 136 years later, the business is still owned and run by his family.
Entrance to Westons Cider Mill
Stone Cider Press Dating Back to 1881
See How Westons Cider is Made
Once inside the Cider Mill building the smell of cider apples hits you. Dabinett and Michelin are the main varieties used here. They are all sourced either directly from Westons’ own orchards or from those of Herefordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire, all within a strict 30 mile radius of the mill. Visit in the summer months though and you may be surprised by the sound of silence. Cider production takes place between early September and December when the Booker press, which pushes the juice out of the crushed apples, is hard at work 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Standing amongst the tall and very beautiful huge oak maturing vats sets the cameras clicking. Each one is named after Henry’s daughters – Dora, Hilda and Edith or cartoon characters and football teams. At over 200 years old, ‘Squeak’ is the largest, capable of holding 42,107 gallons.
Oak Cider Barrels
Delivery lorry and Stainless Steel Fermenting Tanks
Watch the Bottling Line in Action
It’s the bottling line that’s kept busy in the summer though as demand for cider and perry is at its highest during the hotter months. It’s hot work too with over 24,000 bottles filled every hour. Bottles and kegs with their distinctive red, yellow and blue stripes are delivered by Weston’s fleet of 24 arctic lorries. Since 1992 Westons have been exporting cider all around the world. Their cider now reaches 48 countries with Germany, Finland and Australia being the biggest consumers.
Westons Country Perry
Eat lunch at the Scrumpy House restaurant
Taste Rosie’s Pig Flat Tyre
Half way through the tour there’s a small tasting as you watch a video guiding you through the cider-making process. By the end of the tour, after so much talk about cider, you’re ready to try the entire range. Rosie’s Pig Flat Tyre is named after the company’s first delivery van. At 4% and with the addition of rhubarb juice, it’s a light and refreshing summer drink. Enjoy a glass with a bowl of summer pudding and cream. The Country Perry made from the perry pear trees which are planted around the side of the orchards to act as wind breaks, is a light drink too. Henry Westons Vintage Cider is a stronger dry cider as it’s matured for 9 months. It’s an ideal drinking companion to roast beef and Yorkshire pudding on a Sunday when all you want to do afterwards is read the paper by the fire and snooze. Festival go-ers will love Capel Rd, the UK’s first canned craft cider with its oaky smokey flavour and subtle notes of leather.
- Visit in the Autumn months to see and smell the cider-making process in full swing
- Westons offer a range of tour packages including Sunday lunch and cream tea served in its Scrumpy House Restaurant and Orchard Tea Rooms
- Combine a visit to the Cider Mill with a tour of the places recommended in a Foodie Weekend Break in Herefordshire including nearby Chase Distillery or wine tasting at Three Choirs Vineyard in Newent
- Visit the nearby historic town of Ledbury with its magnificent Market House and streets lined with Tudor buildings
- The Cider Mill participates in Open Farm Sunday which takes place every June
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Where to Stay
Brooks Country House – ‘affordable luxury’ in this new 22-roomed hotel housed in a former Georgian Manor with stunning views of the Black Mountains and surrounding countryside
The Bell at Skenfrith – a foodie pub in the Monmouthshire countryside close to Abergavenny that’s also a great base for walkers
Please check with Westons Cider Mill.