Wilkins – Somerset, England

While many of the cideries we visited in France and England were integrated working farms that raised cows and sheep, they did seem to be legitimate cider production facilities, with all the amenities you would expect at an artisan winery. Wilkins cider seemed to be quite a different story in that most of the operation seemed to be geared around cows and other types of farming, while cider was just a natural by-product of living off the land. The facility shares a wall with the cattle pen, and the FDA would have a heart attack if they ever saw the facility, however I believe it is one of the truest views into the traditional style of making West Country cider that still exists.

The cider is produced in the most simple means possible. The apples are harvested off the ground, crushed and pressed, and put into plastic and wooden vats and barrels of various sizes. That's it. Fermentation happens naturally without any intervention. The cider is served directly out of wooden vats as a still, cellar temperature 'rough' product. It is served alongside whole pickled onions (regular or spicy) and some of the best sharp cheddar cheese you have ever had. It was unclear how the cider was packaged for sale outside the farm, but we did see it in a number of country taverns.

Words cannot do justice in describing Rodger Wilkins or his facility, but it is absolutely an adventure and worth visiting.