Cider star takes to the wine stage

Once Upon a Tree, the boutique cider producer named Best Drinks Producer in the 2012 BBC Food & Farming Awards, will be moving into wine making from the 2013 vintage.

Once Upon a Tree - Simon DayA wine consultant since before he began making cider, Simon Day will be expanding production operations in Putley, Herefordshire, to vinify wine as well as his award-winning ciders. Bringing his winemaking skills into the cider house with him, Simon has long felt that cider – and perry – deserves a spot at the dinner table. Now there will be a vinous counterpart with his name alongside the fruits of the orchard.

Simon’s father is Tom Day, a key player behind the success of Herefordshire’s Three Choirs Winery. Simon has been providing vine planting material around the country for over a decade. In 2008 he and his wife, Hannah, joined with Norman and Ann Stanier to make ciders and perries from the Staniers’ Dragon Orchard, with its fabulous variety of cider apples.

Simon’s new drinks will emerge with a new label, and after the first couple of vintages, graduate to a new winery, due to rise from the ground in 2015.

And omens on the wine front look good. One of Simon’s sparkling wines, Ryedale Taste of Paradise 2011, won him the Winemaker of the Year accolade in this year’s Mercian Vineyard Association awards, an honour shared with George Bowden and his delightftul Late Harvest 2007. Ryedale Vineyards in Yorkshire can lay claim to being the UK’s most northerly commercial winery.  

Once Upon a Tree - The Three Counties Shop

“It came as a complete surprise to win this award,” Simon tells me. While he ventures north for harvest and bottling in Spring for the still, sparkling wines such as Taste of Paradise travel south to be bottled, aged and disgorged under Simon’s watchful eye.

In the meantime…

If you are in the area, check out Once Upon a Tree’s recently-opened Three Counties Cider Shop in Ledbury. With its pastel-coloured frontage, it’s a tardis of local produce where you can sample up to ten local ciders. Recently labelled by The Times Travel Section as "magnificent", I challenge you to leave empty-handed!