Top award for Ross-on-Wye Cider
Culture and terroir won the day as third generation cidermakers Ross on Wye Cider & Perry Company scooped the Best Drinks Producer award in the 2019 BBC Food & Farming Awards. Announced at a ceremony in Bristol on Wednesday (12th June), Ross Cider beat off fellow finalists Northern Monk Brewery and Arbikie Distillery.
The award was judged by Alice Lascelles (drinks writer for the Financial Times) and Jaega Wise (head brewer at Wildcard Brewery) who described Ross on Wye Cider & Perry as the producer ‘who had the highest standards across their whole range, and are a beacon not only for their local community but also for their sector as a whole.’
The company is ran by the Johnson family, who have been pressing apples and pears at Broome Farm since the 1930s, as well as operating their local village pub, The Yew Tree in Peterstow, since 2014. Today their natural cider is produced in the true traditional way, relying on the unique soil and climate of Herefordshire to create drinks reflecting the terroir of their home.
Cidermaking to them is more than business; it is a way of life, and a celebration of the tradition of cider. Their natural cider and perry is made from pure apple or pear juice, pressed by hand, grown mainly in their own orchards, fermented with wild yeast. Every batch carries their heartfelt belief in the superiority of a natural product.
Making drinks in this way keeps them different year after year, dependant on so many natural factors. The weather, the sun or the rain, the quantity and quality of fruit crop, the health of the tree, the temperature during fermentation. The philosophy is straightforward, and powerful as a result: keep the product clean and let the apples and pears do the talking. The result is an enormous range of ciders and perries that are pushing the boundaries of what cider is assumed to be, and now finding that its place can be on the dining table even more so than wine.
Albert Johnson, the fourth generation of the family to be living and working on the farm, said that winning the award was “surreal, humbling, and encouraging. Cider and perry is having a ‘moment’ right now, and we hope the recognition this award will bring will encourage more people to reach out and join our wonderful world, because cider and perry are not what you thought they are. They are so much more.”