Alex gib­bins, hurst­wood Cider

Country Homes & Interiors - - MY COUNTRY BUSINESS AWARDS - HURST­WOOD CIDER, HURSTWOODCIDER.CO.UK.

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!’

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