It’s one thing to enjoy an ice cold drink on a hot summer’s day; it’s a whole different ballgame enjoying that same drink with the person who made it, on the farm where it comes from, in a special spot enjoyed by family and friends. That’s how we got to enjoy a tasting of Windermere Cider selection at the Windermere Farm, in the beautiful Elgin Valley, with Managing Director Tamsin Mullins. Found on Viljoenshoop Road right next to the Elgin Church, Windemere’s entrance greets you with rows and rows of apple trees.
The brand was started around 1994 when Andre Le Roux and Mark Stanford started experimenting with apple blends and brewing home-made cider while they waited for the bitter-sweet apple varieties they had brought from Europe in 1989 to bare sustainable fruit. When Tamsin moved to Windermere with her husband so he could be the farm manager, she found herself drawn into the cider business by her father-in-law. Today, she makes the most incredible craft ciders that are a hit wherever they are sold.
Each of Tamsin’s ciders – all made from pure apple, pear, elderflower and rooibos – has its own characteristics. ‘Whenever we are at markets and we get a group of people to try the cider, they’ll each have a different preference. The Elderflower cider is the most popular – I think because of it’s sweet smell but it is still dry and not too sweet, the way cider should be.’
All in all the Windemere farm has 10 varieties of apples and Tamsin is very selective about the types she uses in her cider. She also uses pears that they get from neighbouring farms.
‘Some apples are good for structure, some for colour and some for acidity the same way grape varieties are. Some varieties will have more sun than the previous year so we like to compensate and mix it up. We primarily use Pink Ladies which are sweet, Grannysmith that are quite tart and Golden Delicious which is smack bang in the middle.’
From hand-pruning buds to ensure the apples have enough space and potential energy to grow to hand picking and sorting the fruit so it doesn’t bruise, the amount of consideration that goes into apple farming is incredible. Something as simple as sun exposure or dirt can have an effect on the grade of the apple – fascinating!
After seeing the amount of hard work and passion that goes into Windemere Farm and its products, it’s clear why the primary ingredient in Windermere Cider is great. If you call ahead to the farm, you too can learn all about this first hand.
Where Viljoenshoop Road, Elgin
Contact +27 21 848 1516, windermerecider.co.za
Photography Annzra Denita