“What occurs throughout fermentation?”James Marsden, the outspoken proprietor of Gregg’s Pit Cider & Perry in Ledbury, has thrown me one more query – one which I believe he didn’t really need a solution to.I had simply pushed in from Goodrich, somewhat Herefordshire village about 20 minutes away. After repeatedly crawling alongside the identical stretch of nation lane, I lastly managed to identify the un-signposted opening squeezed between two properties. Previous this, and alongside a single-lane dust observe, was the elusive smallholding accountable for supplying high-quality ciders to Michelin-starred eating places in London and past for upwards of £10 a bottle. However as an alternative of a heat welcome, James has been bombarding me with questions – inquiries to which I simply can’t appear to give you the proper solutions.Tentatively, I reply to the newest one, “Nicely, warmth is produced…”James cuts me off once more. Legally, James explains, cider solely must comprise 35 per cent apple juice and this may be from focus, which retains a few of the most well-known manufacturers in manufacturing year-round and their costs extraordinarily low. In distinction, James’s ciders are made when the fruit is prepared, utilizing pure yeast on the skins, which suggests it takes nearly a yr between the apples falling off the tree to the bottles lastly being sealed. It’s an artisanal product, with a worth to match – and it sells out sooner than it may be made.A centuries-old apple tree (Qin Xie)James takes me into certainly one of his orchards, the place the unique 300-year-old Gregg’s Pit cider apple tree towers majestically. Throughout us are its grafted offspring, planted some 20 years earlier and now ripe for bearing fruit.As we discuss his cider-making philosophy, the sooner abrasiveness has all however disappeared. I get the sense that the frostiness is all for present – so he can break down any expectations and prior information and discuss me spherical to his mind-set. In reality, he’s positively radiant by the point we make it to the stretch of orchard proper subsequent to his house and it’s not arduous to see why he’s so in his aspect right here. It’s nearing peak apple and pear blossom season and, with the solar shining and a light-weight breeze choosing by the leaves, the tiny however excellent orchard is awash with birdsong. The phrase healthful involves thoughts.Subsequent to the little shed the place the cider is pressed, fermented and aged, I style James’s ciders for the primary time. And that first sip cements every thing he stated. Not like the sugary stuff I’m so accustomed to paying £6 a bottle for in pubs, that is clear, dry, with a beautiful finesse. It’s nearly like ingesting a high-quality wine – not by way of the alcoholic content material however in the best way that the sunshine effervescence carries the flavours to your palate, the place it lingers lengthy after it has slipped down with scrumptious ease – and I discover myself excited for the primary time since arriving. This tastes good.As I take driving-compliant sips, I think about sprucing off bottles of the stuff over a sun-dappled picnic unfold with the fruit timber as my companions. However no such luck. Gregg’s Pit marked the ultimate cease of my “maker’s break” in Herefordshire; the agricultural county has a wealthy custom of small heritage producers and craft makers and I had simply spent an extended weekend seeing them in motion.My first cease was a tour and tasting at Chase Distillery, studying all about how vodka and gins are made, and experiencing first-hand the entrepreneurial spirit in Herefordshire. Its founder, William Chase, comes from an extended line of potato farmers and located his area of interest as a serial entrepreneur by launching Tyrrells Crisps. Chase vodka got here subsequent, and he’s now moved on to creating Willy’s Apple Cider Vinegar, having just lately bought the model to drinks large Diageo. (Qin Xie)Whereas now not a small maker, the household remains to be very a lot concerned. William’s youthful son James, who popped in to say hi there throughout my go to, is the model’s world ambassador. And his older son Harry, a potato farmer, remains to be out in any respect hours ensuring the spuds for the vodkas and gins are in high form.Farming apart, Herefordshire can also be house to an extended custom of ironmongery, with many forges nonetheless making items to fee. And in contrast to forges in different elements of the nation, you will get concerned within the motion right here. I channelled my internal blacksmith on Oldfield Forge’s one-day knife making course, the place over about six hours in its Garway Hill workshop, I managed to remodel an oblong piece of metal right into a blade.Ironmongery at Oldfield Forge (Qin Xie)I can let you know now, making a knife isn’t as straightforward because it appears to be like on Recreation of Thrones. There’s a group of ironmongers readily available at Oldfield that can assist you by each stage of the method and are available to the rescue when issues go awry. Even then, my very own try at making a mezzaluna, a two-handled herb chopper, appeared extra like a bit of iron age jewelry than something you may discover in a kitchen. And that’s after a number of hours of hammering, one incident of overheating that melted away half the steel, and loads of tentative burnishing. I’m weirdly pleased with it – it’s arduous to not be once you’ve laboured over one thing – however I don’t suppose a profession in blacksmithing is on the playing cards for me.Luckily, Herefordshire had extra crafts I may flip my hand to. So with a sore wrist and aching shoulders – a results of poor hammering posture (sure, it is a factor) – I headed to Dilwyn for a bag making course with Sarah Williams. The founding father of handmade and bespoke leather-based items model Williams Handmade, Sarah has over a decade’s expertise of working with leather-based. In addition to bag making workshops, she additionally runs longer, multi-day programs for individuals who need to make bespoke designs.House studio of leather-based items model Williams Handmade (Qin Xie)Her tranquil house studio, which appeared out onto an orchard crammed with sheep, was the very reverse of the noisy ding of Oldfield Forge, and coal-blackened palms had been swapped for cups of natural tea. Everybody has their very own instruments and workstation the place they’ll select their very own materials, reduce the leather-based, and hand sew it right into a bag within the house of a day. This slower tempo gave me an opportunity to ask why there have been so many manufacturers in Herefordshire.“Necessity,” Sarah stated. “There isn’t a lot business in Herefordshire so should you don’t need to be a farmer there aren’t many roles round.” It helps too, she says, that the native faculty presents hands-on coaching for every thing from blacksmithing to furnishings making. I’d add to that, ardour – and I for one am glad to have had the chance to share it.As for my purse, it turned out a lot better than I anticipated. After my less-than-impressive try at knifemaking, I used to be satisfied the outcomes can be akin to Cecilia Giménez’s botched restoration of Ecce Homo, so I used to be shocked to style one thing {that a} good friend has just lately mistaken for a Mulberry. Cue mega-proud correction.Journey essentialsGetting thereIt’s straightforward to get to Herefordshire by way of practice to Hereford, though to get to a few of the extra rural spots you’ll have to have a automobile or e-book taxis properly prematurely.Staying thereStay on the Flanesford Priory, which is only a quick hike from Goodrich Fort and the beautiful river views at Symonds Yat. Costs for the 2 bed room cottage begin from £240 for 3 nights. Cider Mill Cottage, which sleeps six, prices from £735 for 3 nights.Visiting thereVisits to Gregg’s Pit are free however by appointment solely – you pay just for what you style. Children are welcome, however canines are sadly not for hygiene causes.Excursions of Chase Distillery, lasting an hour and 45 minutes, value £20 per particular person and embrace a tutored tasting and two G&Ts.Knifemaking at Oldfield Forge prices £157.50 per knife and two individuals can work on the identical blade.A full-day’s bag making at Williams Handmade begins from £135 per particular person. All supplies are supplied on commonplace programs however if you wish to make your individual designs, supplies could also be further.Extra informationFor extra details about Herefordshire, see visitherefordshire.co.uk.