CIDERMAKING is “on the up” according to producers in Herefordshire and surrounding areas who will be raising a glass to acknowledge the sharp rise in the craft at next month’s first Three Counties Cider and Perry Association conference.

Such is the draw for this inaugural one-day event that organisers have rapidly sold all tickets. As more and more producers are taking up the time-honoured art of cidermaking, this overwhelming support for the conference means that it will become a fixture on the regional calendar.

Such a positive response is all good news, an indication of the growing skill and interest among professionals and hobbyists in an area where cidermaking has been part of the rural heritage for centuries.

The CraftCon event, at Pershore College on Friday April 5 is aimed at helping to stimulate the art. The association will be showcasing a range of talented producers with the promise of interactive workshops, and a chance to hear others explain how they got started in the world of cider.

Against a backdrop of strong growth in the premium cider market, attention is finally being turned back to the “fantastic heritage” among cider and perry makers whose skills are renowned in the region.

“Yet with orchards being lost at an alarming rate, mostly due to lack of demand for the fruit, we risk losing some of our most significant cultural heritage, both in the landscape as well as in gastronomy,” said association spokesman Tom Tibbits. “The significant contribution cidermaking gives to the cultural heritage of the three counties goes beyond providing the ‘golden fire’ for summer revellers,” he said.

“Traditional orchards, frequently undermaintained and certainly not sprayed, offer considerable habitat to farmland species often under threat in modern times, as well as a unique habitat for some rare creatures like the iridescent noble chafer beetle, and across the region cider accounts for a significant contribution to the local economy in jobs, agriculture and tourism.”

But so frequently, these ancient orchards are grazed with little regard to the fruit trees in them.

“Cidermaking is on the up, it’s more popular than ever.”