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Guernsey has long been intrinsically linked with apple growing and has an accomplished cider heritage. As early as the 16th Century production thrived and cider, recognised for its premium nature, was exported in large quantities from the Channel Islands to mainland England. In 1998, the Meller Family set out to re-establish the Industry and the cider making tradition was reborn through the Rocquette Cider Company.
The company plays an active part in the community, from its involvement in the annual apple swap to its place at various fetes and festivals. The Viaer Marchi event organised by the National Trust is a firm favourite, with stall holders in customary Guernsey dress and live demos taking place of many traditional skills such as butter making, weaving lobster pots, lace and rope making. Held on the first Monday in July, it’s usually attended by around 6,000 Islanders and visitors. Guernsey bean jar, Paella, Torteval Cheese, Gache Melee are some of the foods to enjoy, which can be washed down with a cool refreshing pint of Rocquette draft cider. Rocquette are popular here and sell about 2,000 pints during the evening. They operate eight pumps with a band of merry volunteers, all helping to raise proceeds for The National Trust.
Harvest time is their busiest time of year, with all hands to the pump. In a good year, they collect around 250 boxes of apples weighing about 800 kilos each giving 200 tonnes of mixed variety fruit, which will produce 125,000 litres of juice. Their 15 acres of land with 5,000 trees comprises a mix of Cider apple varieties including Dabinett, Michelin, Amanda and Helen. As a small family business with only six employees, they are always hands on so you’ll always find them on a quad bike or tractor tending to their trees, fences and hives, often by their dogs, Pip, Molly and Tia. The hilly orchards are a challenge and so they use compact machinery to harvest, and employ extra staff to help.
Every year, there is a community apple swap, which brings in about 10 tonnes of fruit from the public who come to the Meller farm every Saturday morning, for six weeks, during September and October. They are laden with carrier bags, wheel barrows and trucks crammed with apples, which they happily exchange for cider. The Meller’s rejoice in the fantastic examples of fruit they receive, along with the stories of how they were harvested, and to be able to turn them into cider which we can be exchanged for more apples the following season. The public love that their apples are in Rocquette Cider and so this has become a modern tradition which the Meller’s hope will continue for years to come.
The Rocquette Cider farm hosts bee hives too - a true reflection of their approach to sustainability and to harnessing the complete lifecycle of the orchard. “Our bees play an important role in the development of our harvest and are key to pollinating the orchards”.
Rocquette Cider is available throughout the Channel Islands, in supermarkets, hotels and pubs. You will also find them at the summer shows including Sark Folk Festival, Alderney Week, The Performing Arts Festival in Alderney, Bean Jar Jamboree, and many other events and festivals across the Bailiwick.
They offer Tours and Tastings in the summer, if you can get a party of between 16 and 30 friends or workmates together to go and spend an evening with them.
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Fancy quenching your thirst with refreshing Rocquette? Try it for yourself at the onboard food and beverage outlets.
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