Main Promo Images
Ann & Norman Stanier - owners of Dragon Orchard help bring in the harvest. Our juices are all made from tree ripened, hand picked fruit.
Winners of BBC Food and Farming Best Drinks Producers
From left to right
Simon Day, Norman Stanier, Hannah Day, Pete Brown (Judge), Ann Stanier, Valentine Warner (Awards Presenter)
A sharp cider variety, ready for harvesting!
Three Counties Cider Shop
Our store in Ledbury is stocked to the rafters with not only our own produce, but cider and other drinks from 25+ other local producers from Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire (and occaisional guest ciders from further afield!)
We run two novel orchard schemes - Dragon Orchard Cropsharers and a Sponsor a Tree scheme - click on the menu for details
We host a number of tours and events throughout the year, from orchard walks and cider tastings to poetry festival events and more... See our events page for more details.
Ellis Bitter cider apple.
A full bittersweet variety, with lots of tannins and rich flavours - a lovely component in many of our blended ciders
Cool autumnal mornings are perfect for picking. Here, our Blenheim Orange trees are mostly harvested.
Cider apples ripe for harvesting. We allow the fruit to fully ripen on the tree for maximum flavour in the finished cider.
We take great care with our juice apples. These Egremont Russet are destined for our Russet & Bramley juice.
Pressing the apples
Golden juice runs from the press - a modern take on the traditional rack and cloth press. We press about 4 Tonnes per day.
Some of our range photographed in the orchard at blossom time.
Three Counties Cider Shop
Our Three Counties Cider shop can be found right in the centre of our pretty market town of Ledbury - a vibrant town with loads of unique interesting shops, cafés, pubs, and attractions.
Willow Sculptures in the orchard
We offer various events throughout the year, and we regularly host artists and sculptors during The Trumpet Art Trail and H.Art
Winter in the Orchard
Orchards can be beautiful places in snowy conditions!
The 28th of November 2012, will be quite a memorable day for Once Upon A Tree.
The anticpation since learning we were finalists was unbearbale. However I had managed to convince myself that we wouldn't win. The oppostion was very strong after all...
Arriving in the theatre we looked for signs or signals of if we'd won or not. "We don't have "Gold" tickets" I said to Hannah, when we were looking at the signs at the entrance of the theatre, "They must be the ones for the winners. We haven't won, lets just relax and enjoy ourselves!" But we were guided in to the front of the theatre with all of the other finalists...
We met Pete Brown who had judged us, but he had his poker face on!
Our reserved seats were at the wrong end of the stage "They wouldn't have us walking right in front of the audience to get on stage - we haven't won." I whispered to Hannah.
The show started - Gwyneth Williams, Director of Programmes for Radio 4, introduced the awards and the main presenters Sheila Dillon and Valentine Warner took up their stations. Several categories came and went - all with incredible, inspirational stories. "Surely, we're not of that calibre?" I thought.
Pete Brown introduced the Drinks Producer finalists. I was sure he was tallking about the Kernel Brewery. Then he said "...and the winner is, Once Upon A Tree" and the cheers (and screams!) from the audience were incredible! (I didn't realise that half of Herefordshire had arrived!)
We had WON!
BBC Food & Farming Awards 2012. Best Drinks Producer.
We all walked on to the stage and eagerly shook Pete's hand. The big screen was showing images of our orchard and ourselves, whilst snippets of the recording that were made when the judges visited were being played. It was somewhat surreal!
Shelia Dillon & Valentine warner were up on stage grinning at us, saying "Well done" and Sheila asked me a question or two, and I answered, but I honestly cannot remember what I said - I wish I'd prepared something! But it's OK, I can talk the cider talk until the cows come home!
We returned to our seats and I realised that I was shaking. I looked across the others and just saw grinning faces, and I realised I too must have looked like the Cheshire cat too! but I was thinking "I'm just some bloke making cider in Herefordshire - How did I get here?!"
It's taking a while to sink in...! This is big. Actually, this is BIG! REALLY BIG!
The phone hasn't stopped ringing, emails and tweets have flooded in. James is labelling furiously in the Cider Shed just to keep up with number of mail orders going out...
5 Years is a very short time in business. We have just pressed our 6th harvest. Thats only six attempts at getting it right, and the latest lot is only just fermenting - Looks like we're doing things well enough though!
Listen to the Awards Ceremony or read more about the awards and the other category award winners on the BBC Food & Farming web page
BIG thanks to everyone who has supported us so far - you can all take a share in this award!
The orchard is still full of birds even with the hard winter weather. The most abundant of which are the fieldfare and redwings. They have an excited chatter / chuckle that fills the orchard as they fly in flocks through the rows of trees looking for apples that were left (and there are a good number this year - just as well considering the weather!). We have also spotted lots of blue tits, great tits, long tail tits, song thrush, pheasants, blackbirds, great spotted woodpeckers, as well as buzzards and sparrow hawks keeping the little birds alert!
We had a dormouse hunt last week, but didn't spot any signs in our hedges yet, but a nest was found in a near neighbours hedge, so they're close by!
Last night, Hannah, Meg and I were invited to the Cider Museum in Hereford for the launch of the Herefordshire Biodiversity Partnership Woodpecker Survey Exhibition, which details the first year of this project.
"Orchards have recently become a priority Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) habitat which means that they have been noted for their invaluable biodiversity interest and that they are subject to decline if not managed sensitively. Herefordshire as a county holds the most orchards / highest density in the UK. As a result, we have listed orchards also as a priority habitat and it has been afforded a habitat action plan." (taken from Herefordshire Biodiversity Partnership website)
The survey is being collated by the Herefordshire Ornithological Club (click to learn more and partake in the survey) and they are detailing the locations and habitat of each of the three UK species of woodpecker:
We loved the fantastic photos taken by the very talented photographer and international conservation expert Evan Bowen-Jones the photos really brought to life the colours and textures of the birds and their habitat, with helpful and interesting interpretation boards around the room to explain about the species, why the survey is taking place and how you can help.
We put our stickers on the Herefordshire map as we have Great Spotted Woodpeckers in our garden and around the orchard, and we occasionally spot a Green Woodpecker, but we have yet to spot the rare Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in our immediate area, we'll keep our eyes peeled, but they are secretive and spend most of their time high in the tree tops.
If you have a chance to get into Hereford in the next few weeks, go along to the cider museum to see the exhibition, and enjoy the link between wildlife, orchards, apples and cider! If not, and you live in Herefordshire, do take part in the survey.
I now feel very inspired to try a bit of orchard wildlife photography - I must put "telephoto lens" on my Christmas list....