A top cider maker who doubled production in six years is celebrating a new milestone.
Steve Hughes, 54, owner of Rosie’s Triple D Cider, based in Llandegla, is now the largest exclusively “Welsh-pressed” cider maker in Wales.
He is also adding sparkle to a campaign to promote Denbighshire as a great place to do business.
He will be among the wealth of business talent helping to showcase the very best of Denbighshire’s growing food and drink industry next month.
Steve will be promoting his multi award-winning ciders at A Taste for Local, a major networking event hosted by Denbighshire County Council at Myddelton College in Denbigh.
The event, which will be held on March 8, is part of a packed programme of free workshops and promotional activities being organised to mark March for Business, Denbighshire’s Business Month.
Steve, who originally worked in an aluminium can-making plant in Deeside, made his first batch of cider 12 years ago using apples that he’d picked on the family farm, Dafarn Dywyrch, Llandegla.
To his delight, it won Gold at the Campaign for Real Ale’s (CAMRA) National bottled Cider Championship at which point he decided he was on to a good thing.
Little over a decade later, he has a shop and a series of national and international awards behind him. Asked why his cider is a cut above the rest, Steve said it was “all about the apples”.
He pressed 120 tonnes of apples at his farm in 2016 – 100 per cent up on the 60 tonnes he pressed in 2006.
The increase now means he processes more apples within the borders of Wales than any other cider producer, ensuring his products are as Welsh as possible.
Steve said: “My ciders are full-juice drinks meaning there’s no added water or bulking agents – every drop of the liquid has been pressed out of an apple,” he explained.
“I’m making cider like they used to make in 1850. You press the juice, it ferments, and then it’s pretty much ready to go. It’s about as traditional as you can get.
“I can put my cider up against any producer in the country in terms of flavour and quality. I can and I have competed with the very best.
“I have 17 acres of cider orchard and I also buy apples in, many from Denbighshire, just local people who have two or three apple trees in their gardens. They’re all pressed in Wales.”
Cllr Hugh Evans, Leader of Denbighshire County Council said “We’re delighted to welcome Rosie’s Cider back to our Taste for Local event this year.
“Rosie’s is one of many success stories within our county and we are proud to introduce their fabulous, award-winning products to businesses looking for high-quality, award-winning flavours.”
Steve added: “The business has grown every year for the past 12 years and last year was my busiest year yet. “I’ve always relied on people finding out about me through word of mouth and I rarely advertise. If I ever have to make a cold call I feel like a double glazing salesman, I’m just not cut out for it.
“But I’m a great fan of supporting the local economy. Denbighshire County Council is working very hard to generate interest in the local food companies we have here in the county and that’s very commendable.
“Ultimately, if we all do well as businesses, we will boost the economy and more money will be spent in Denbighshire. That’s what it’s all about – keeping money within the community and the county.
“This event will bring lots of producers and buyers all together in one place. It’s a great platform for generating more business and getting the name out there.”
The Taste for Local event will play host to dozens of food and drink producers as well as potential buyers from the restaurant, B&B and hotel industry to promote opportunities for new business. The aim is to secure more contracts for local food and drink producers by giving buyers a chance to sample the products available within the county.
As well as providing a showcase for local producers, there will be keynote presentations in the morning, including a food and drink industry update from VisitWales, information on local supply chain opportunities by Welsh Government and the latest trends in hospitality from a marketing expert. In the afternoon there will be a workshop for businesses.
Carolyn Brindle, Denbighshire County Council’s Lead Officer for Business Support and Local Growth said: “Denbighshire is home to a wealth of culinary and brewing talents and the Taste for Local event really provides producers with an opportunity to show off their creations with the ultimate aim of increasing business.”
Economic Development Officer Stuart Whitfield, who’s organising the event, said “We know how important food and drink festivals and business platform events are in developing brand awareness, effectively pulling buyers and suppliers together in one place. This is not an opportunity to be missed.”
Steve will be bringing along his new DD Sharp cider along for customers to taste. The new flavour has been 12 years in development as Steve had to wait until the 65 varieties of apple trees he planted to mature and be ready for inclusion in his secret recipe.
With a bevy of industry accolades including two second place titles in the Medium Perry and dry Cider categories of the prestigious International Cider & Perry Competition in Hereford last year, Rosie’s Cider continues to attract orders from shops, pubs and restaurants across the North West and – more recently – in Cardiff, and Stockport – as well as lots of holiday makers to North Wales.
Steve works seven-days a week and during the pressing season in October and November will regularly work 18-hour days. His wife, Nicola, 57, and mum, Gwen, 77, continue to help out during busy times.
Rosie’s Cider produces a range of award-winning ciders from Rosie’s Triple D in dry, medium or sweet to Wicked Wasp and Black Bart. The majority of the firm’s products are sold in bag in boxes.
Steve grows 65 varieties of apple on the farm, mostly cider apples such as Broxwood Foxwhelp, Kingston Black, Porters Perfection through to cooking apples such as Bramley and Newton Wonder, which are important for acidity.
Many of Steve’s original customers continue to buy his cider including the Crown and Willows in Llandegla
To book a place go to www.denbighshire.gov.uk/marchforbusiness or phone 01824 706896. If you need more information contact Stuart Whitfield on 01824 706932