Perthshire's Cider Region! May 02, 2016 09:37

It may come as a big surprise to many that we have been quietly cultivating our very own wine and cider region right here in Perthshire!   Many of you will know – and will have enjoyed - the fabulous flavours of Cairn O’Mohr fruit wines but what you might not be aware of is the resurgence of the Carse of Gowrie’s historic orchards which has allowed Ron, Judith and the team at the strange Scottish Winery to produce cider, apple juice and even more varieties of wine.

For centuries, the Carse of Gowrie, with its high sunshine averages, was an important area for "top-fruit" - apples, pears and plums.  From the medieval monastery orchards in the 12th century and the revival of interest during the Victorian era these traditional Scottish fruits were the staple of the Carse.  The fruits used to be shipped down to London on boats out of Port Allen on the Tay and it was only in the twentieth century that soft fruit became more dominant and the area became known for strawberries, raspberries, currants and wild varieties such as elderberries.   

Recognising the importance that orchards have for biodiversity, the Historic Orchards Forum works within the Carse of Gowrie to encourage the safeguarding and maintenance of the old traditional orchards, together with the creation of new orchards and fruit tree plantings;  including one of the oldest and most extensive heritage orchards in the area at Megginch Castle.

Ron Gillies of Cairn O’Mohr Winery has been part of the revival and the heritage orchard forum meets regularly at the Cairn o Mohr winery where matters relating to restoration of these orchards and the planting of new ones are discussed. 

Ron is a passionate advocate of picking local for his famous wines, soft drinks and ciders.   Drive along the Carse road during spring, summer or autumn and you will often see Ron, laden like a pack horse, out picking berries, wild flowers, leaves and fruits.

In fact, most of their ingredients are picked within a 25 mile radius, largely because they can! The landscape is rich with farms, orchards and wild foraging opportunities and they are all of the highest quality.   The winery is set in amongst this abundant countryside and has been producing wine since 1987.  Or as they like to tell us… “juicy-fruity, berry loaded, blossom scented, leafy layered, award winning country wines”.

Back to these orchards though; Ron and Judith may have started with wine but following the revival of the Heritage Orchards they tried their hand at cider.  They now have two varieties of cider and a non-alcoholic apple juice for the drivers; these are made from some of the old varieties and a mixture of modern ones from round about the Carse and are available to buy here at Provender Brown.

SWEET CIDER PUNCH:  Fruit punch cider this is a Fruity cocktail, sweet and summery with some autumn stirred through.

VINTAGE CIDER: Sweeter and rounder with a more profound flavour from keeping the apples kicking around for longer and cutting down on the cookers. 

APPLE JUICE: Crisp, non-sparkling juice that is best served cold with lots of ice. If you close your eyes it’s just like drinking flat cider. Very popular at the world famous Gleneagles hotel, where world leaders sip it whilst making earth-moving decisions. Possibly in the morning.

Cairn O’Mohr will be with us for a Cider and Apple Juice Tasting on Saturday 28th May from 11am – 3pm.  Make sure you drop in for a wee taste!

Diane X