Harvest in Kent
As The Garden of England, autumn has forever been the most important time of year in Kent’s calendar.
As we say a fond farewell to the heady days of summer for another year, we welcome in the autumn and the glorious harvest that comes with it. During this plentiful season, Kent’s growers are busy out in the fields gathering crops, whether that be arable produce or seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Forever famous for its apples, Kent’s relationship with this biblical red fruit goes back centuries, the first growing wild in Britain during the Neolithic period. Ever since, the not-so-humble apple has continued to evolve with our sense of taste and since the arrival of the Romans, new varieties have constantly been introduced to our markets. insideKENT spoke to David Riccini, Kent fruit grower and winner of Orchard of the Year in 2023’s East Kent Fruit Society’s Annual Orchard Competition, on what he predicts will be an exciting variety of apple newly grown here in the UK. “Although we have come to know and love this variety for many years, the Pink Lady apple has only just recently been granted a licence to be grown in Britain. Before now, any Pink Lady apples would have been imported, with most being grown in Europe and Australia where they originated from. This is an exciting time for both UK growers and UK consumers that care about eating locally grown fruit, as this much-loved and cleverly marketed apple will have both the appeal of being grown on home soil as well as being the popular Pink Lady brand with all its quality and taste.” As well as this, fewer food miles will have been travelled, meaning less carbon footprint and less water footprint when British Pink Lady apples are purchased – as we always say in insideKENT, when it comes to British produce, always check the label to be completely sure.
“Another very exciting new apple that is grown right here in Kent, is Magic Star,” says David, “Just one bite of a Magic Star is all it takes to understand why this juicy, fresh yet sweet, firm and aromatic apple is causing such a stir. Magic Star has consistently been voted one of the most popular apple varieties in taste tests, so keep an eye out for it in supermarkets and local farm shops – if you see it, buy it! It’s definitely a popular new favourite.”
As well as buying Kentish produce, whether that be in supermarkets or from one of our wonderful local farm shops, there’s plenty of other ways to get involved with Kent’s harvest and celebrate our farming roots this season.
Brogdale Farm, Faversham
The National Fruit Collection is one of the largest fruit collections in the world and is located at Brogdale Farm. This season, they have lots of interactive events as well as their Orchard Walks and Daily Orchard Tours; keep updated on exact dates via their website: www.brogadalecollections.org.
Hedgerow Wine Making – September
Spend the day discovering how to make your own delicious hedgerow wine from foraged fruits and berries. The course includes ingredients plus two glass demijohns, two bungs, air locks, a bucket and two gallons of must (to be fermented) to take home. Start the day with an introduction to the process and theory before heading outside to forage for hedgerow fruit and ingredients. You will then return and begin learning the practical element of making two different types of hedgerow wine and all of the processes involved. Leave the day with two litres of hedgerow wine that is ready to ferment at home with full instructions on fermenting, making and bottling your delicious hedgerow wine!
Foraging Walks – September
Start the morning with a talk and discussion at the Plough Inn on Lewson Street, Sittingbourne with tea and coffee to get you off to a warm start. The walk will take a circular route around the Kent countryside where you will learn to identify the wide variety of edible plants and fungi available in the wild. The walk will end back at the pub, giving you the opportunity to stop for lunch, choosing from the delicious pub menu. You will take away a better understanding of food in the wild and how to use what’s just outside your doorstep.
Working with Willow – September and October
A one-day course introducing you to the traditional craft of working with willow and basket weaving. Perfect for those new to basket weaving as well as those wishing to rekindle their skills. Basket weaving remains dating back to 8,000 BC have been found in Egypt! Once you have the basic skills, the possibilities are endless for what you can go on to make at home.
Start the day learning about the different types of willow, handling the material, and discovering why and how the particular willows are used. Spend the rest of the day learning the process of making a small basket suitable for fruit, bread and other small items. Use locally grown willow to make your basket and take your finished creation home at the end of the day
Cider Making Workshop – October
The cider-making day will start at Brogdale Farm with a history of cider making in Kent. Spend the morning getting hands-on with cider making then head out into the Brogdale orchards to gather apples. Get hands-on by hand-scratting and pressing your apples into juice ready to make into cider while learning valuable skills from the expert teacher who is on hand to answer all questions. Discover all you need to know about fermenting your freshly pressed apple juice at home and creating the perfect cider. You will leave the day with up to 15 litres of your freshly pressed apple juice ready to ferment at home with full instructions and guidance on the fermenting process.
Vines and Wines
Warehorne Vineyard: Kent’s newest family vineyard celebrates its second harvest
Nestled in the captivating landscape of Warehorne in Kent, Warehorne Vineyard is a dream turned reality for its passionate founders. As a family run vineyard with 18 acres under vine, Warehorne Vineyard exudes a warm and welcoming atmosphere, creating a sense of belonging for all who visit. The first harvest season in 2022 was an unforgettable milestone for the vineyard. With determination and the help of dedicated volunteers, they successfully harvested fruit from 15,250 vines in just four days marking the beginning of a rewarding journey.
Warehorne Vineyard’s distinctiveness lies in its commitment to producing exceptional still wines. The carefully selected grape varieties include pinot noir, pinot gris, chardonnay, pinot meunier, cabernet noir, and the captivating hybrid, divico. These thrive in sandy clay, infusing the wines with the essence of the region’s terroir.
Under the brand name ‘Oasthouse’, Warehorne Vineyard unveiled four exceptional still wines to the public in June 2023. Exciting developments continue at Warehorne Vineyard with the launch of a captivating guided vineyard tour and tasting experience, offering guests a firsthand immersion into the world of vines and wine.
Looking ahead to a promising second harvest, Warehorne Vineyard remains steadfast in their commitment to crafting wines. Co-owner of Warehorne Vineyard, Peter Constable said: “Our first harvest season in 2022 was an unforgettable milestone for us. With determination and the help of dedicated volunteers, we successfully harvested fruit from 15,250 vines in just four days, marking the beginning of a rewarding journey. This year we launched four exciting still wines under the brand name ‘Oasthouse’ and a guided vineyard tour and tasting experience. We will be harvesting fruit from 17,250 vines this year and the long hot summer last year produced a lot of flowers and the 2023 harvest is looking very promising. ”
Celebrating the harvest with Meophams, Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 September
Celebrate the 2023 grape harvest at Meopham Vineyard with a mix of yoga and wine tasting followed by a festival which includes food vendors, drinks and live music. Keep up to date with the event via Meopham’s website: www.meophams.co.uk or on Instagram: @meophamvalleyvineyard.
This is also an opportunity for pre-harvest wine tasting of Meopham’s 10 different grape varieties and the best time of year to walk between the vines: the ultimate photo opportunity. With yoga from House of Leyla, a charity contribution to Ellenor, and food including a fire pit from Field and Flame and Il Peperone Piccante. Live music includes The EverFlow on Sunday. A ticketed event.
Celebrating the harvest with Westwell Wines, Charing
Westwell Wine Estates is open over harvest for tours and tastings – Thursdays 11am – 5pm, Fridays 11am – 8pm and Saturdays 11am – 8pm. Westwell will have food trucks, their amazing toasties on Fridays and Saturdays, and will offer cheese and charcuterie plates on Thursdays.
In addition to being open for tours and tastings, Westwell will be showing Pride and Prejudice on 24 September outside in the vineyard. To book this experience, visit: www.westwellwines.com/products/pride-and-prejudice
Brand New Kentish Products for Autumn
Biddenden adds three new flavours to its Biddies range
Biddenden Cider has launched three new flavours in their popular Biddies sparkling cider range. Continuing family cider making traditions spanning three generations, Biddenden has combined their famous Barnes family recipe, honed and perfected over 40 years, with modern tastes and techniques to develop three new fruity ciders.
With a lower ABV of 4%, this new range of refreshing fruity ciders includes Biddies Berries, Biddies Elderpear and Biddies Spartaruss. Biddenden is all about their traditional strong, still 8.4% cider, but this new range is keeping up with new trends.
Showcasing the best of real fruits, Biddies Berries is a medium 4% cider made from Kentish apples, blended with blackberries from a local farm and elderberries harvested from the hedgerows at Biddenden. Made from real fruits, not from concentrate.
Biddies Elderpear is a medium 4% cider made from Kentish apples, blended with Kentish pears and infused with elderflower picked at Biddenden. Their traditional cider is the headline act and pears and elderflower add to the party to make this refreshing and fruity addition to the Biddies range.
Biddies Spartaruss is a medium-sweet wine-style 4% cider made from Spartan and Russet apples, matured for nine months in-tank with American Oak staves to enhance and develop the flavours, while capturing the sweetness of Spartan and delicate nuttiness of Russet.
These new flavours join Biddenden’s popular core Biddies range which can be purchased from Biddenden Vineyards’ website: www.biddendenvineyards.com, and from their onsite vineyard shop.
Turner’s Apple Gin
Turners is known for making award-winning artisan apple ciders. Now they have harnessed the spirit of Kentish apples to create a delicious London dry gin.
Distilled in small batches in Kent, this gin is perfect served on ice with a slice of apple, with a premium tonic water or in a Turners gin appletini. Expect a rich perfume of fresh apples and fruit-full English orchards when it comes to aroma and a warm and aromatic with juniper forward taste, developing notes of sweet baking spices and a rounded red apple finish. Botanicals include juniper, apple cider, dried lemon peel, angelica, rose, cassia, cardamom, coriander, clove. ABV: 40%