We started the day with crates of apples...
and Jez' own Heath Robinson-esque equipment, into which his assistants gamely fed apples for milling...
Jez talked us through the process step-by-step, then led us in a tasting of juices and ciders made from dessert, culinary, and cider apples. The juices had been pressed outside in the yard just minutes before, and the ciders came from Jez' own 'cider cellar' at home.
I was particularly excited by the bright flavors of the freshly pressed, unpasteurized juices. My favorite was Blenheim Orange, with Newton Wonder a close second.
After the tasting, we had lunch in the Daylesford Kitchen Garden, then piled into minivans for the short journey to Stow Cider, another artisan producer.
Here we experienced the process from start to finish. We shook the orchard trees to bring down a rain of apples,
used long poles to pull off the remaining apples, then gathered them into bags,
which we hefted back to base, where our apples were combined with apples of different varieties to produce the perfect blend:
We worked the mill and press in teams, filling the hopper with washed apples, scooping up the pomace, building the 'cheeses' (wrapping layers of pomace in cloth and sandwiching them between boards), pressing the cheeses, and dismantling the pressed cheeses.
In the end, we each took home 25 liters of juice to ferment into cider. And if you've never seen a 25-liter barrel, that's a LOT of cider!