THE finalists for Best Cider Producer make their drinks from apples grown in Herefordshire orchards.

The finalists in the category, sponsored by the Royal Three Counties Show, are: Celtic Marches Beverages, Gwatkin Cider Company Ltd, and Newton Court Cider.

Gwatkin Cider Co Ltd at Moorhampton Park Farm in Abbeydore, Herefordshire have been making cider in Herefordshire for 27 years.

Apples and pears are grown on their farm and they also get produce from neighbouring farmers.

James Daley, from the company, said: "We use traditional methods to make the cider. There are no sulphites added and it is all fermented spontaneously."

The cider is available online, from their farm shop, selected local retailers, and retails at between £2.50 to £5 per bottle.

It is a small, family run business. Not only is it a working farm, but it’s also a home.

As well as keeping livestock they also own apple and pear orchards that supply them with the fruit needed to make cider and perry.

The farm shop stocks their entire range of 35 ciders and perries, subject to seasonal availability, along with a selection of local beers.

When they are not at the farm, they spend a lot of time touring the country showing and selling their produce at fairs and events.

Newton Court Farm in Leominster makes craft cider that's pressed at their farm by a master cider brewer named Paul Stephens.

Paul said: "It means making cider out of proper apples. It means a cidery surrounded by orchards, not industrial equipment.

"It means people covered in mud and apple peels, not people in suits. Buying craft cider supports local business, the heritage of cider making and the countryside. But most of all, craft cider tastes much, much better."

Their ciders are made from fresh apples grown in their own orchards or are picked by Paul and friends from orchards in Herefordshire.

Newton Court Cider is part of an organic working farm on 15 acres of cider fruit and six acres of perry pears.

Paul added: "We are one of the few ciderys who still pick, press, bottle and sell our cider and perry straight from the farm without the need for industrial scale fermenting or the use of concentrate.

"We love using heritage variety bittetsweet and bittersharp apples to make some of our popular single variety ciders and perries.

"We are proud to know the apples and pears that go into our products and know the orchards they have come from."

Celtic Marches Beverages in Bishops Frome is a self-sustaining cider producer.

Collette Cumbes from the company said: "All apples used in our ciders are taken from our 200-acre orchards on the family farm in Bishops Frome.

"We are a self-sustaining cider producer, which is a rare position; a result of over 100 years and numerous generations that have dedicated themselves to the orchards.

"This allows for full control over our cider production from tree to glass. Awarded PGI status, you can be assured that only Herefordshire apples are used in our delicious craft cider."

They have a mix of old and new orchards. New trees which are planted can take around seven to 10 years to successfully fruit.

Collette said: "Cider making is a long process. Our orchards are cared for throughout the year, be it a sapling Ellis Bitter or an old Michelin.

"The blossom time is carefully monitored and a long hot wet summer is always hoped for.

"During harvest time, at the end of September, we collect the fallen apples and they are moved from the orchards up to the farm.

"Here, they are weighed, washed and sorted before they move along to our press."