I'm Barrie Gibson and I started to make cider about 15 years ago purely for myself, my family and friends. As word got around, more and more people brought us apples, the quality of our cider got better and better, people started to ask if they could buy some, and we came to think maybe it might be the time to 'go commercial'. We looked around for a base, and in 2012 we found a small orchard and lovely outbuilding that could be converted into a cidery in Golant, not far from where we live in Fowey.
We only use fresh apples from our own orchard and others close by and nothing else. We wash the apples three times and reject any we wouldn't eat. We mill the apples into small pieces and then press this ‘pomace’ in our new belt press. About 65% of the this is juice, which is then pumped into our 1,500-litre tanks. At the end of each day we add yeast and put it under an airlock and it is pretty much left to its own devices for the best part of a year.
When we need the tanks back for the next year's cider we bottle it in Champagne bottles with a small amount of sugar and leave it for another year, for a secondary fermentation to take place. The yeast works on the sugar to make alcohol and carbon dioxide, gradually building up to a pressure of about 5 or 6 bars of pressure.
Year three it gets quite interesting. The bottles are inverted in what the French call 'pupitres' (sandwich boards with bottleneck-shaped holes in them) and every day or so, they are twisted to encourage the sediment to creep down through the bottle and come to rest on the inside of the crown cap. When that happens the bottles are chilled to 2C. The cap and about an inch of the neck are then put into what I call a 'bottleneck freezer' (don't know what the French call it), which runs at -27C. We open the bottle and the carbon dioxide created by the secondary fermentation forces out an ice plug containing any remaining sediment.
This bottle is then given a small amount of sugar to sweeten to Brut level and topped up by our bottling machine to 750ml. Finally the cork is inserted and the cage put around it to hold it in place. We then leave it alone again. After a few weeks it's good to drink but the brilliant thing is it gets better over the months.
Our first product to launch on 6 December 2014 was our 2012 Sparkling Vintage Cider.