So after 3 hectic, wonderful days, Franklin County Ciderdays 2014 was over for another year and i was on my way to Colorado. Jocelyn Kuzelka of Panacea Wine Consulting and cider maker at Foggy Ridge Cider gave me a lift to the airport. Really enjoyed talking about cider with Jocelyn because she comes to it with none of my in built bias, immersed in the deeper phenolic traits associated with bittersweet ciders. Her background in “clean” science, gave me an insight into the breadth of the world of cleanly fermented apple and also what the possibilities for the combination of “clean” and “wild/traditional/phenolic” ciders could be. It would be great to visit Foggy Ridge, it is many, many  years since i had dinner with Diane Flynt and many other US cider makers in Pershore, England.

After uneventful flights, i land in glorious sunshine in Denver, CO and a chance to finally visit with Dick and Diane Dunn. Dick and Diane have visited me in Ocle Pychard, Herefordshire and we have enjoyed a very fruitful friendship but this was my first time visiting Hygiene, Colorado. Dick is such a considered, gentle man and his passion for cider so deep. The weather for this early November visit was warm sun and blue sky. Everyday we walked, we talked, Dick proudly showed me his trees and cider making set up. I got to walk round Hygiene and finally got to ask why Hygiene? It stems from the old days when the town had a sanatarium to help TB sufferers . We drove up and i mean up, to where the air is clear and the oxygen less and yes i felt it, as we walked round some beautiful lakes.

A whirlwind of visits to Aaron and Matt at Branch Out Cider , Jennifer at Scrumpy’s  who have a generous 4 ciders from Oliver’s on her list, then to  Compass Cider  and  finally Stem Cider . We did a great cider tasting at The Kitchen in Denver with Lauren from my importers Shelton Brothers , talking to the staff about the heritage and diversity of cider, a rewarding experience for all i hope. A visit to Small Batch Liquors followed which made me proud, seeing Oliver’s ciders alongside Aspall  and amongst some of the finest beers and cider known to man.

The focus of the visit never veered much from cider and i was really looking forward to the Rocky Mountain Cider Association “Cider Social” which was tremendous. Bill Lyon coming all the way from Santa Fe with Mike and Mrs Mike from Santa Sidra doing the same, many of Dick’s local co-conspirators in cider, Lauren and Zac from Shelton Brothers bringing some fine palates to the assorted tastings and also a chance to meet up again after about 12 years with Shawn Carney from Blossomwood Cidery. It was a great afternoon drinking cider, talking cider and learning a little bit more about everyone. Also had a good long phone call with Lee McAlpine from Montana Ciderworks who unfortunately could not make the meet up, due to an unannounced delivery of juice. Lee’s location and second planting of an orchard of bittersweet cider apples following a fire in the first, means that the next time i am in the NW a road trip is on the cards.

3 days was never going to be enough time in Colorado, everyone was so generous and the ciders so plentiful, it was great to taste and talk about them all. Thanks Dick and Diane, such great and generous hosts and a big thank you to Bill Lyon for all his help with this trip. Cheers Bill. The weather was superb for my whole trip and then i left for the the Port of of Los Angeles and the CO weather just had to break and the first snow of the season came within a few days.

The final 3 days of this epic trip were for Shelton Brothers The Festival 2014 a wonderful extravaganza of beer, beer, more beer and sour beer and more sour beer and then some cider from all around the world. In this company of some weird and some wonderful, an exotic mix of folks, all either immersed in a mash tun for great lengths of time or fresh from scaling the climbing frames of diverse hop varieties growing all around the world.

It is a real privilege to have the support of Dan, Tessa, Joel, B.R., Bob, Jordan and Christian et al at Shelton Brothers . One day i will tell the story of the start of this relationship, suffice to say that it all started with a visit to Herefordshire many years ago by Ron Extract and Amber who now reside at the magnificent  Jester King Brewery  in Austin, Texas and i am so grateful that the mantle is now in the hands of Lauren Shepard (with a lot of assistance from Zac). The opportunity that Sheltons has given Oliver’s Cider in the USA is tremendous and we aim to make cider and perry that will never disappoint.

The worldly cider selection were old friends Charles and Milissa from AEppeltreow, Caroline from Peckhams , Marc Antoine and Peter from Les Vergers de la Colline and Dominique from L’Hermitiere .Culled from the LA Weekly this is a glowing review of why this is such a fine event. I would like to attend  every year but it is in harvest time and this year looks impossible and so i am not sure i can make it to St. Petersburg FL. on October 15 and 16 but i will try The Festival 2015 .