HEREFORDSHIRE is well-known for its cider and the manager of the most famous of the county’s brands said they are here to stay.

Bulmers has been made in Hereford since 1887 and is still produced and packaged in the city.

The company was bought by Heineken, one of the UK’s leading cider and beer producers, in 2008.

?Alexander Brinkerink, cider operations manager at Heineken in Plough Lane, emphasised the importance of the Hereford site.

He said: “We have just come off the back of a massive project spending £58m at this site which shows how we believe in cider.

“It is a fantastic product next to our range of beers where we can offer different flavours to different types of consumers.”

Around 300 people work at the branch in Moorfields, Hereford, while there are around 50 employees at the Ledbury Cider Mill.

The workforce varies, depending on the time of the year; at the moment there are 40 people working in the orchards.

Mr Brinkerink said: “Ledbury is our milling operation. That is where the apples get milled and turned into juice.

“Here in Hereford we make our ciders out of the apple juice.

“We ferment the apple juice and then package it in cans, bottles, kegs and all our various pack sizes people would like to buy.”

Their biggest brands are Strongbow and Bulmers. They also make Old Mout, Woodpecker and Scrumpy Jack.

Bulmers has also just launched a new cider range, the Orchard Pioneers, beginning with Kier’s Cloudy Apple Cider and Sarah’s Red Apple Cider.

Bulmers works with 180 different orchardists, primarily in Herefordshire, to gather in more than 100,000 tonnes of bittersweet cider apples.

In a break from the norm, the world’s largest cidermaker worked with two of its key suppliers on the recipes for the new range.

The first in the new range is named after Kier Rogers.

Well known locally, Rogers supplies 2,000 tonnes to Bulmers and is a small-scale cidermaker himself, under the Colcombe House label.

Sarah’s Red Apple cider is inspired by the Katy apple, an earlier ripening variety, for which Sarah Hawkins is among the main suppliers.

The year 2016 was the first harvest where, thanks to a logistics rethink at Bulmers’ Ledbury Cider Mill, the Katy apples were able to be handled separately from the vast majority of the harvest crop.

Mr Brinkerink said: “When I first joined we took apples in and made ciders out of blended apples. Individual apples- there is a difference. There are different flavours.

“This is an effort from our side to learn ourselves from those who grow apples, sometimes for generations.”

As part of the £58m project a glass bottle line was introduced so the cider can be packaged in bottles in Hereford.

Bulmers take 30 percent of all cider apples grown in the UK and the vast majority of them are from Herefordshire. Mr Brinkerink said they are committed to using Herefordshire apples.

They also own eight orchards.

The harvest period is September, October, November and more than 100,000 tonnes of apples go through the mill during the harvest with more than 5,000 trucks delivering the fruit.