David Sheppy, the 6th generation Master of Cider at Sheppy’s Cider, has overseen nearly 30 harvests since he took over the helm at Sheppy’s Cider. Here are his thoughts on how the first few weeks of the 2018 harvest have unfolded so far...
"It’s been one of the hottest summers on record and we’ve definitely seen the effects across our 90 acres of Somerset cider orchards. Some of our fellow cidermakers have reported that the long hot summer was ideal for their culinary fruit trees, which cope with long periods of dry weather better than cider apples trees. However the vast majority of Sheppy’s 30 different varieties are well seasoned heritage cider varieties which are used to more stereotypical English summers… ie. cold and wet!
"We started pressing very early for cider apples, with our first collections hitting the press on the 10th September. But even though our 202nd harvest started earlier than usual, it’s still very early days here (there’s still probably another 6 weeks before we complete the harvest).
"A lot of our early varieties fell very early indeed, in particular Somerset Redstreak, Taylor’s, Hastings, Angela, Lizzie, Jane and 3 Counties. The quality in these were all very good with high sugar levels.
"However since then the apples have largely remained firmly on their branches and the early October varieties now appear to be later than normal. A strange reversal! We are now starting to get in to these later varieties such as Harry Masters, Michelin, Browns, Kingston Black and Coates Jersey. It’s too early to assess the quality of these, but likewise with the earlies the sugar levels are good and slightly above normal.
"With regards juice content - nothing over the top so far! The dry weather has meant smaller fruit with less juice. We’ll see how the rest of the harvest unfolds over the next few weeks.."