In the beginning it was just my best mate Mark telling me we should make some cider from a few apple trees on his farm. It seemed like a simple undertaking, to turn some unwanted apples into something tasty that would get us a bit drunk.
The reason not everyone makes their own cider is because it is actually bloody hard work. We soon came to find out that whilst it was great fun to do, mainly because we got to spend the day messing about up trees, it was also intense, sweaty work. We used a truck, a ladder and lots of shaking to collect the apples, then a 12L basket press to press them for juice. The pressing took a very long time using this press, we would get 50 to 70 litres of great tasting apple juice in 8 hrs hard slog. By the end of the day it seemed a fools errand.
Fastforward a few months however and it all became clear why we made such an effort. I took the juice away, using my winemaking knowledge and love of cider, I turned our painstakingly acquired juice into firstly a still cider, then finally a bottle fermented sparkling cider. On that first bottle tasting, it all just made sense.
This first endeavour into cider production is the reason I make it today, I do things a little differently, with less backbreaking, sweaty work but I still want to make something I enjoy just as much as that first cider.