Alex gibbins, hurstwood Cider
W anting to set up a business in tune with her surroundings was the starting point for Alex Gibbins when she began selling lightly sparkling bottled cider in 2015. Alex lives in the village of High Hurstwood in East Sussex, a prominent apple-growing part of the country, with husband
Mat and their three children, Ella, who’s 13, Billy, 11, and seven-year-old Lottie.
‘We had dabbled in homebrewing cider,’ says Alex. ‘We knew the market for it was expanding. When our youngest child started school, the moment was right to go for it.’ A core principle is that their product is pure and natural – ‘with no funny additions’, says Alex.
The couple borrowed equipment from an old school friend, and asked a local farmer for space to store the overwintering cider. ‘It’s a good tip when you’re starting out: just ask people. The worst thing they can say is no.’
In autumn, the couple buy dessert apples and traditional bittersweet cider apples in varieties native to Sussex and Kent. They press the fruit, add a champagne yeast, and the cider is left to mature. Alex’s approach has been to concentrate on making a good product, rather than investing in flashy brochures, so she is thrilled to have won. ‘I almost didn’t apply because I thought I was too small, too new. Now I’m telling everyone, whether they are interested or not!’