FAQ about Harp Hill
What is Harp Hill
- It's my hobby cider production for my friends and family. I have a small
cider orchard for my own amusement, which produces up to
800 litres of cider every two years (the trees are fully biennial).
Where do you make it?
- In the Wittenham Clumps area of South Oxfordshire, between
Abingdon and Wallingford.
Why the name Harp Hill?
- One of our local landmarks now known as Round Hill was formerly
and more colourfully known (on the 1883 Ordnance Survey map) as Harp Hill. I thought it would
be a good name for the cider too.
What apple varieties do you use?
- They're all West Country cider apples which I planted specially
for the job, although this is not a traditional cider-growing
area. Their names are:
- Broxwood Foxwhelp (bittersharp)
- Harry Masters Jersey (bittersweet)
- Kingston Black (bittersharp)
- Stoke Red (bittersharp)
- Frederick (sharp)
- Sweet Coppin (sweet)
- Dabinett (bittersweet)
- Crimson King (sharp)
- Yarlington Mill (bittersweet)
- LeBret (sweet)
- Medaille d'Or (bittersweet)
Do you use a yeast?
- Yes, indeed, but not an added one. I treat the
with small amounts of sulphur dioxide to inhibit unwanted yeast and
bacteria, and then allow the benign strains of wild yeast to do the job
of fermenting sugar into alcohol. I find that gives me more
complex and interesting flavours than using a cultured wine yeast.
How long does cider-making
- My cider-making starts in the autumn when the fruit is
ripe. My final pressing is typically in late November. The
yeast fermentation is done in HDPE (high density polyethylene) wine
fermenters and is normally finished by January / February. The
cider is then racked into a stainless steel tank for maturation during the spring which
is completed during the summer.
What happens during maturation?
- During maturation the malo-lactic
change takes place (also incorrectly known as a 'secondary
fermentation'). This happens by the action of specialised lactic acid bacteria which convert
the apple's malic acid into lactic acid. This gives off carbon dioxide
bubbles, reduces the acidity and also rounds and smooths the flavour.
Many white wines are made this way - notably Chardonnay with its
Do you bottle the cider yourself?
- No. For simple practical reasons my cider is
contract bottled at the Pershore College Cider and Juice
facility in Worcestershire.
Is your cider carbonated
- Yes it is. I think the flavour balance comes over best with
a little petillance and just
a little added sweetness. Unfortunately it's very difficult to
achieve this safely by bottle
conditioning (although I do make a little bottle-conditioned
cider for my own private use). So modern bottling technology is used
Is your cider pasteurised?
- Yes. The small amount of added sugar might referment
otherwise, which could lead to exploding bottles and other unpleasant
Do you use any additives?
- Apart from the small amounts of sulphite and sugar mentioned
above, no. My cider is made from 100% pure apple juice.
How should I drink your cider?
- The alcohol level is around 6.5% and the cider is medium dry
on the palate. You can drink it slightly chilled (not too cold!) on its own or you can enjoy it
with food or a snack like bread and cheese.
I think your cider is nice / nasty!
- Most people seem to like it, and it's won prizes over
the years at the Bath and West Show, at the Three Counties Show and at
the Hereford International Cider Competition.
It's deliberately made in a "commercial" style to appeal to a wide
range of people. (I do produce other more challenging stuff
for my own amusement.)
Where can I learn more about
- A good start would be my website at www.cider.org.uk which describes
craft cider making in quite some detail!
Last updated 13th February 2010