Napton Cidery, Holroyd House Farm, Napton on the Hill, Southam CV47 8NY
In my twenties I spent much of my summer holidays in Cornwall eating pasties and sipping glasses of strong cheap scrumpy cider and in more recent years I took part in an apple harvest collecting the fruit for a local Northamptonshire cider producer.
As the morning wore on many villagers joined the `apple picking` with children gleefully picking up the apples off the ground and several well-behaved family dogs tearing around the trees chasing each other, fully enjoying the freedom of the outdoor spaces. There was a festival atmosphere with the sound of laughter and the hum of conversations swirling around the trees. Everyone was having a pleasant time enjoying the company of others and contributing to the village harvest.
It was with these thoughts in my mind that I travelled a few miles across the county boundary into Warwickshire to visit Napton Cidery in the picturesque village of Napton on the Hill to taste & enjoy their very special Ploughman’s Tasting Tour. The cidery at Holroyd House Farm includes a taproom, shop, outdoor seating area and large car park.
My wife & I were greeted warmly at the door of the taproom by Karin who welcomed us with a smile. Her co – host Daniela was already at the bar having set up each of the tables with several branded glasses and several bottles of their very own cider. There were about thirty guests seated around the tables all looking forward to tasting some top quality cider, tucking into a hearty ploughman’s supper and hearing about the processes involved in taking apples from the orchard to filling up our glasses with the liquid gold!
Daniela also set up our ploughman`s suppers when we ventured outside into the farmyard for a short talk and Q&A all about how the ciders are produced from the very knowledgeable Karin who explained the process to us all.
“Seventeen different types of apples are harvested from six carefully selected orchards and pressed in Herefordshire before being transported back to Napton. The next stage is the fermentation which can take up to 9 months. The cider is then re-racked off the dead yeast, blended, and matured for a further 3-6 months and sometimes longer. Some of the cider is matured in oak, most of them are blended but some are selected to produce a single variety cider”Karin – Napton Cidery
My wife & I were seated opposite Lee & Rachel a lovely couple who had travelled across from Warwick for the Napton experience. We were given four of the signature range ciders to sample.
No3 – A Smooth Dry Cider ABV: 6.0% – Off-dry/ fruity aroma/ complex bittersweet character.
No4 – Bold Medium Cider ABV: 5.4% – Cloudy farmhouse cider/bold caramel sweetness.
No5 – Blackcurrant Cider ABV: 4.0% – Clear & rich in colour/ Bold blackcurrant body/delicate sweetness.
No6 – Fresh Medium Dry Cider ABV: 4.6% – Lovely light golden colour /fruity aromas/easy drinking/delicate &refreshing.
My wife as the driver was given a bottle of her favourite cider, the No5 Blackcurrant Cider to take home with her. I chose No4 Bold Medium Cider as my favourite because I thought it was an easy drinking cider, sweet with a distinct taste of caramel. Lee agreed, `You can definitely taste the caramel`. Rachel chose cider No6 the Fresh Medium Dry Cider with the Lewis Hamilton lookalike image on the bottle.
We were also given a bottle of Lost Apple Cider from the craft range & a bottle of Apple Juice and given the choice of a sample of the Taproom Special ABV: 5.6% a Limited Edition Sparkling Cider or the Apple Brandy ABV: 43.0%! I opted for the special whilst my wife went for the strong brandy! The Taproom Special is described as a single variety cider that is grassy on the nose, clear filtered, light and carbonated. The taste is fruity, floral and refreshing with a smooth, astringent finish. The Brandy comes with a hint of caution! As a strong 43.0% ABV it certainly packs a punch, with no compromises made on flavour. It is Golden in colour with wonderful apple aromas and a smooth finish.
All of the ciders were going down very well, much better with the ploughman`s in front of us. I do believe that good drink needs some good food to be fully appreciated and we were given both to make for a really enjoyable evening. I thought that numbering the ciders & labelling them with a pictorial image is a great idea. It enables the drinker to easily identify the cider they liked best! There was an opportunity at the close of the evening to buy further bottles of your favourite cider from the shelving in the shop area of the taproom to take home with you.
Business owners Charlotte and Jolyon Olivier have been making cider in their family-run cider works overlooking the beautiful Warwickshire countryside for just seven years having had their interest in cider generated after a holiday in Cornwall a couple of years earlier. The couple started collecting unwanted apples from Napton and the surrounding villages to make their first cider, pressing around 2000 litres in 2015. Jolyon now spends some of his time perfecting the cider recipes whilst Charlotte is often to be found running the taproom and shop. Napton Cidery now harvest, press, bottle and distribute more than 100,000 litres of craft cider a year as well as limited-edition ciders, Perry, apple juices, apple cider brandy and vinegars.
The cidery has a strong sustainability ethos, right through from harvesting to packaging. There is no concentrated apple juice or artificial flavouring used in the manufacturing process. All of the apples come from traditional unsprayed orchards, organic and biodiverse growers, so no unnatural chemicals are introduced into the ecosystem. The cider is also naturally fermented using only wild yeasts and packaged in recyclable materials and all ingredients are sourced as locally as possible.
Two recent successful crowdfunding campaigns have helped the cidery launch a post-pandemic recovery plan with plans for further expansion & growth. Alongside the appointment of staff, the cidery has invested in new products and some very smart looking branded cider glasses! The cidery also have plans to extend the taproom & toilet facilities following the success of their popular live comedy, music and tasting events.
Napton Cidery supplies an increasing number of local pubs, bars, restaurants, farm & bottle shops across Warwickshire and neighbouring counties. The local community is key to the success of the Cidery. Napton Village Stores, which is just a short walk away have sold their cider since the start of production & now supply the delicious platters served during the cider tasting evenings including the Ploughman’s Platter which I thought was superb. The stores stock local vegetables, meat, and dairy, including produce from the nearby Napton Water Buffalo! I drove round to see the Water Buffalo after my tasting tour but could not find them!
One of the very first pubs to sell Napton Cider was The Folly Inn, a quintessentially English Pub situated on the canal, just down the lane from the cidery. I really must plan a visit very soon, it sounds wonderful! Napton Cidery has also become a sponsor of Napton Football Club, the village’s recently reformed football club that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century. The cidery has won many national awards including having recently been revealed as the Winner of the Artisan Drink Producer Award at the Coventry & Warwickshire Foodie Awards 2022.
I spent a wonderful evening at Napton Cidery enjoying plenty of top quality craft ciders complimented with a very tasty Ploughman`s supper whilst learning all there is to know about the production of cider. The taproom was pleasant, bright & cheerful and I really enjoyed the company of our friendly table partners!
If you are looking for an evening or afternoon out why not pop along to one of their live comedy, music, Quiz, Ploughman`s or Cocktail evenings?
Check out their website for up to date information about future events.
I would fully recommend a visit, my wife & I had a fantastic couple of hours for our Ploughman`s Supper!