Wednesday, 4 April 2012

John Worle

Hooray - I'm back online!

How often do you think about where all the cider and perry trees come from? Someone has to grow them and that person has to be a step ahead of demand which is no mean feat in these cidertastic times. They take a few years to get well established and a good few more before they start producing any decent amounts of fruit so its an investment for any grower and something a producer, like the legendary nurseryman John Worle, has to anticipate as carefully as he can.

Last autumn I made the time to visit several people and places in and around Herefordshire to get a feel for whats goes on up there. Its easy for me to get wrapped up in the Somerset cider scene as its on my doorstep without the chance to get a feel for a broader UK picture, so I felt it was the right thing to do.

Late one Saturday afternoon in the quiet light just before the sun goes down, John gave me an hour of his time to explain the difference between budding and grafting to me. We made a couple of flying visits to several of his different (and secret!) locations where he brings his stock on. He's had an illustrious career in the cider industry and has worked in and around cider all his life. Somerset born and bred, he relocated to Herefordshire where he still operates from today. His first job at 17 was with Coates cider in Nailsea, he later won a scholarship to Long Ashton Research Station and then went on to work for Bulmers so really is a man of true UK cider pedigree! In my opinion, he's one of the unspoken heroes of the UK cider industry - part of the backbone of expertise that quietly supports the showier, noisier front end of the industry.

He definetly has the look of a rascal: my wife Lisa gets dewy eyed when she mentions his piercing cheeky eyes and his mischievous grin that says 'Let me assure you, I am a man that knows how to have fun...'

Anyway, his trees really were first class: strong, healthy and massive for their age. When I buy my trees, they'll come from him! I'd encourage you all to do the same.

For more, please visit and say hi from me.

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