Cidery owners proceed with caution as they plan long-awaited summer of fun in new taproom

Cidery owners proceed with caution as they plan long-awaited summer of fun in new taproom

The owners of an award-winning cidery have pledged to limit visitor numbers to their new taproom despite finally being permitted to launch tasting tours and events there.

Planned festivals, workshops and tasting tours were abruptly cancelled on the eve of the taproom’s grand unveiling at Napton Cidery in March last year, when the first Covid lockdown was imposed.

But Jolyon and Charlotte Olivier, who lost more than £100,000 in revenue due to the pandemic, went on to launch a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign earlier this year to help mount a post-pandemic recovery of their business.

Napton Cidery, Taproom, Tasting Tours
Jolyon, Charlotte and Matilda Olivier with the Taproom Special cider and Smudge the dog.

Despite an end to the Covid restrictions, the taproom, which finally opened its doors last month, is capping the numbers for the long-awaited return of The Ploughman’s & Cider Tasting Tours by up to a third.

As well as releasing a limited-edition Taproom Special cider to mark the occasion, there’s a summer of celebration in the planning at the Cidery with the launch of a new series of live events including comedy, music and cocktail nights.

Although masks won’t be mandatory, sanitiser use will be encouraged and doors and windows left open for air circulation.

Charlotte said: “We’ve been waiting a long time for this and it feels quite emotional seeing people finally coming through our doors. We were gutted that we didn’t get a chance to open the tap room last March but have spent lockdown getting it ready for our customers, plus we’re so excited to be planning events again. I think we’ll all appreciate them more than ever.”

She added: “But while we welcome so-called ‘Freedom Day’ for businesses, we are also sensitive to some of our customers’ concerns. We’re mindful of the rising numbers of cases and how people are at different stages of the journey as they tackle the lasting effects of this pandemic.

“We want our visitors to feel safe in the knowledge that we very much have their interests at heart while still ensuring it doesn’t impact on their experience with us.”

Both tasting tours are led by Charlotte who gives visitors a unique insight into the cider making process and the story behind Napton’s award-winning recipes.

The business started life as a hobby nine years ago when the couple were first introduced to the taste of craft cider on a family holiday to Cornwall. Returning home to with an apple tree, they soon started experimenting in their back garden.

Today, the team harvests, presses, bottles and distributes more than 90,000 litres of craft cider a year, using 17 types of apples from six orchards across the Herefordshire region.

Central to Napton’s growing popularity among customers is its strong sustainability ethos, from harvesting through to packaging. All of its apples come from traditional unsprayed orchards, organic and biodiverse growers, so no unnatural chemicals are introduced into the ecosystem. The cider is also naturally fermented using only wild yeasts and packaged in recyclable materials and all ingredients sourced as locally as possible.

The shop also sells perry, juices, spirits and vinegars as well as a new products the team have been working on this year – including Apple Cider Brandy, canned ciders and branded collectors’ glasses. There’s also the opportunity to sample them all.

The Cidery is open Monday-Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 12-5pm.

Visit Napton Cidery at: https://www.naptoncidery.co.uk/

Learn more about the Ploughman and Cider Tasting Tours at: https://www.naptoncidery.co.uk/visit-us

Previous articles: Independent Cidery launches limited -edition to mark launch of new taproom – after 14-month delay! | Chalmers News PR

Supporting campaign will help cidery beat pandemic | Chalmers News PR

Self-catering business maintaining safety measures as part of cautious approach to ‘Freedom Day’

Self-catering business maintaining safety measures as part of cautious approach to ‘Freedom Day’

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Freedom Day, Jo Carroll

THE owners of a boutique glamping retreat in Warwickshire have vowed to maintain their enhanced Covid restrictions despite the end of legislation from today (Monday).

The decision will come as reassurance to guests against a backdrop of rising infection rates across the country as the vaccination programme continues to be rolled out.

Due to the enhanced cleaning regime, the business will maintain its later check-in times and there are no plans yet to reintroduce the fabric furnishings, books, games and toys which were removed under the previous restrictions. Welcome baskets in all the lodges will continue to include only single-packaged items and staff will wear full PPE. There are also sanitiser stations throughout the site.

While Jo Carroll, co-owner of Winchcombe Farm Holidays in Upper Tysoe, has welcomed the easing of restrictions, she fears it may not mean an end to the business challenges ahead.

“While the pandemic is by no means over, we are pleased to see a change to some of the rules we have been working to over the last few months. But we go forwards from Monday very much with cautious optimism. The current extremely high infection rates are worrying and will no doubt lead to another wave of cancellations and dent consumer confidence,” she said.

“Our housekeeping costs have doubled, as we maintain cleaning standards dictated to us by Visit England, but we have decided to retain the same rigorous regime for many more months to come. It is essential that our guests feel our accommodation is clean, safe and secure in the current climate.”

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Freedom Day, Jo Carroll, Will's Treehouse
Will’s Treehouse

Winchcombe has been closed for eight of the last 16 months, costing Jo and partner Steve Taylor, tens of thousands of pounds in lost business.

The couple received emergency support from the Government’s Hospitality Grant Scheme – which covered all their basic utility bills – plus free business rates, but fell into the 10% of workers who didn’t qualify for any personal financial help.

The family-run retreat finally reopened to guests in April following a sustained six-month period of closure, but bookings which continued to contravene the Covid-19 regulations along the Government’s roadmap, resulted in more refunds.

Jo said: “For the last few months, we have only been permitted to have six people from six different households or two households in a holiday lodge at any one time. This has caused a logistical nightmare for some of the large group reservations, and we’ve cancelled many bookings as a result – refunding thousands of pounds to customers in order to ensure that we didn’t break the rules.

“We’ve also jumped through hoops to ensure that we have track and trace information for every single guest aged over the age of 16, which has taken hours and hours of admin time.”

Winchcombe Farm Holidays, Freedom Day, Jo Carroll

And, for the mum of two, both the business and personal sacrifices have, at times been a difficult pill to swallow.

She said: “It was extremely frustrating to see that 66,000 people were allowed to gather at Wembley to watch the Euro 2020 final when we weren’t allowed to have seven people staying together in a holiday lodge in a remote rural location.

“We were not even allowed to attend our children’s sports days this year due to Covid, however thousands of people descend on Wimbledon for the tennis. There does seem to be some definite disparity in the rules.”

The couple, who established their glamping business just over two years ago on the foundations of their former privately-run nursery, currently have five lodges and a tree house for guests on their farm, including the recently opened Jess’ Tree Bach.

Visit Winchcombe Farm Holidays at: http://winchcombefarm.co.uk/

More about Winchcombe Farm

This unique collection of luxurious holiday homes has been beautifully designed and equipped to offer the very height of luxury – from steaming hot tubs and hammocks to outdoor pizza ovens and geodesic domes for a spot of stargazing.

The family-run, independent holiday retreat is hidden away on a private country estate in the glorious Warwickshire countryside on the north east tip of the Cotswolds in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Surrounded by a working farm, Winchcombe Farm lies beneath the famous battlefield landmark of Edgehill and makes the perfect base for exploring Stratford-upon-Avon and some of the picturesque Cotswold villages nearby.

New categories unveiled for seventh Leamington Business Awards

New categories unveiled for seventh Leamington Business Awards

NOMINATIONS are being invited for the seventh Leamington Business Awards which, this year, sees the introduction of three new categories.

Established in 2014, the LBAs champion and celebrate the work of local businesses, individuals and organisations while also raising vital funds for local charities, culminating with a glittering black-tie ceremony, on November 18th.

Leamington Business Awards from a previous year.

The awards have been opened out across all categories, giving people the opportunity to nominate for:
New Business of the Year – sponsored by Lodders Solicitors
Business and The Community Award
Customer Service Excellence Award – sponsored by The Box Factory
Young Person of the Year Award
Employer of the Year
– sponsored by Leap People Solutions
Innovation of the Year
Outstanding Achievement of the Year
Independent Business of the Year, sponsored by Harrison Beale & Owen.
Warwick District Charity of the Year
The People’s Choice Award – sponsored by The Leamington and Warwick Courier and Kenilworth Weekly News Series. (Voted for by the readers of the Courier and online via the Leamington Business Awards website, as a business that simply stands out for great personal service and customer satisfaction.)

This year also unveils two new categories – South Warwickshire Freelancer of the Year, sponsored by Beyond The Book and Creative Business of the Year, sponsored by Fresh Seed.

Emma Brewster, Managing Director for Fresh Seed, said: “We are proud to be sponsoring the Creative Award for the Leamington Business Awards. Through our work as the go to HR and training agency to the Creative sector, we feel passionately about the wonderful work the sector produces in this region and are delighted to see it get the recognition it deserves at this event.”

Emma Head, of Beyond The Book, said: “We have been supporting businesses with creative, digital and marketing freelance resource for 13 years, and we know how incredibly important it is to have a diverse, talented and professional resource in the region. This award will raise awareness of a much-needed market, and the great talent that exists for businesses to tap in to.”

A winner from all the categories, as well as those directly entering for this award will be selected for the prestigious Judges’ Choice Award – Business of the Year, sponsored by ActionCOACH Warwick.

Kevin Riley, Business Growth Specialist, said: “ActionCOACH Warwick are delighted to sponsor the Business of the Year Award and shine a spotlight on businesses who are continually innovating to support future growth. We look forward to celebrating your successes and highlighting your achievements over the past 12 months!”

Award winners have already been announced from three Covid-19 categories launched last autumn, recognising Business Resilience, Business Pivoting and Lockdown Hero.

The preliminary COVID-friendly interactive event was broadcast live online from Noisegate Media Studio in Leamington in December, and featured a special message from Matt Western MP for Warwick and Leamington.

The winner of The Business Resilience Award was CJ’s Events in Warwick; the winner of The Business Pivot Award was Heartbreak Productions in Leamington; and the winner of The Local Lockdown Hero Award was Baabzi Miah of Baabzi’s Takeaway in Warwick.

Foodie Awards 2021, Jonathan Smith, Talk Business UK, Visit Coventry, Coventry BID, Trish Willetts, Eat With EllenOrganiser Jonathan Smith, pictured right, of Talk Business UK, said: “It is a real pleasure to have a positive outlook for the year ahead and through the Leamington Business Awards we can recognise and applaud the fantastic achievements local businesses have made.

“We are especially delighted to introduce the new award categories to highlight the contribution the creative and freelance sector make to the local community and economy. Once again, the 3D Design students at WCG have designed and produced an innovative award trophy unique to these awards!’’

Proceeds from fundraising on the night will be divided between the finalists in the Charity of the Year category.

Businesses interested in sponsorship are invited to contact Jonathan Smith at: leamingtonbusinessawards@gmail.com or jon@talkbusinessuk.co.uk

Further details about the awards and how to nominate are available at: www.leamingtonbusinessawards.co.uk Nominations close on Friday, September 30th and finalists will be contacted by email and via the website and social media.

Read about the Covid resilience winners here.

Independent Cidery launches limited -edition to mark launch of new taproom – after 14-month delay!

Independent Cidery launches limited -edition to mark launch of new taproom – after 14-month delay!

AN award-winning family Cidery in Warwickshire has launched a new limited-edition to celebrate finally welcoming the first visitors to its taproom – 14 months on from its planned launch.

The day has been a long time coming for the owners of Napton Cidery, whose grand opening plans were suddenly stalled just days before the first Covid-19 lockdown.

World Cider Day, Napton Cidery, Taproom
Jolyon, Charlotte and Matilda Olivier with the Taproom Special cider and Smudge the dog.

Jolyon and Charlotte Olivier lost more than £100,000 in revenue after being forced to cancel planned events, workshops and tasting tours at the venue, instead being forced to take all their trade online.

But a crowdfunding campaign earlier this year to help mount a post-pandemic recovery of their business, has exceeded expectations, leading the couple to once again revisit their plans for expansion.

The taproom and shop also sells perry, juices, spirits and vinegars as well as a new products the team have been working on this year – including Apple Cider Brandy, canned ciders and branded collectors’ glasses.

Jolyon recalls: “The tap room was closed before it even opened. Our licence was issued on the Monday immediately after the Government shut the pubs in March. We had been planning a big launch to celebrate. We also had six pubs lined up ready to install our kegs, all of which had to close as well.

“So we thought it appropriate to celebrate finally being able to open with a limited-edition cider that we’ve called The Taproom Special, it’s a single-variety cider made from the Katy apple.”

But be warned, there are only 1,200 bottles available – and cider lovers can only get their hands on one by visiting the taproom in Napton-on-the-Hill.

The business started life as a hobby nine years ago when the couple were first introduced to the taste of craft cider on a family holiday to Cornwall. Returning home with an apple tree, they soon started experimenting in their back garden.

Central to Napton’s growing popularity among customers is its strong sustainability ethos, from harvesting through to packaging. All of its apples come from traditional unsprayed orchards, organic and biodiverse growers, so no unnatural chemicals are introduced into the ecosystem. The cider is also naturally fermented using only wild yeasts and packaged in recyclable materials and all ingredients sourced as locally as possible.

Today, the team harvests, presses, bottles and distributes more than 90,000 litres of craft cider a year, using 17 types of apples from six orchards across the Herefordshire region.

Charlotte Olivier, Napton Cidery, World Cider Day
Charlotte Olivier at bar with the Taproom Special.

Charlotte added: “It’s been quite emotional seeing people walk through our doors. While we are obviously working hard to stay within the restrictions that are still in place and keep our customers safe, we are over the moon to be welcoming visitors, at long last, to our new facility – and look forward to being able to hold events again, hopefully in the summer months.”

In the meantime though, bookings are now being taken for tours and tastings, including the Ploughman’s & Cider Tasting Tour. Here guests are taken through the cider-making process and invited to sample six recipes, whilst also enjoying a Ploughman’s Supper supplied by Napton Village Stores.

The Cidery is open Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm and Sunday 12-5pm.

Visit Napton Cidery at: https://www.naptoncidery.co.uk/

Learn more about the Ploughman and Cider Tasting Tour at: https://www.naptoncidery.co.uk/ploughmans-cider-tasting

Curtain up for Belgrade’s Spring and Autumn Seasons

Curtain up for Belgrade’s Spring and Autumn Seasons

TWO weeks after the Belgrade Theatre Coventry first reopened its doors, comes the announcement of a host of new shows for its 2021 Spring and Autumn Seasons.

Highlights include the return of Dirty Dancing, The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency, a co-production with Cardboard Citizens for Coventry UK City of Culture, and Mischief Theatre’s The Play That Goes Wrong.

The Belgrade’s Autumn Season kicks off with a series of live music acts. The Best of Take That featuring Rule the World celebrates 30 years of Take That dominating the charts on Wednesday, 1st September. The Illegal Eagles then take to the stage on Thursday, 2nd September, celebrating 50 years since the formation of the legendary West Coast Country Rock band. The Real Thing also arrive in Coventry on Friday, 10th September, with original vocalists Chris Amoo and Dave Smith and a live band. Later in the season, The Bluejays present Rave On, a celebration of ‘50s and ‘60s Rock n Roll, on Friday, 22nd October.

Belgrade Theatre, The Play That Goes Wrong

Acclaimed Mischief Theatre once again bring The Play That Goes Wrong to the Belgrade this autumn. The multi award-winning international smash hit comedy has been hailed “a gut-busting hit” by the New York Times and is now in its seventh year in the West End. The slapstick comedy can be seen in Coventry from Monday 13th – Saturday 18th September.

From Thursday, 30th September – Saturday 2nd October, Original Theatre Company present Being Mr Wickham. Adrian Lukis, who starred in the renowned BBC TV adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, returns to the role of Mr Wickham to set the record straight. Written by Adrian Lukis and Catherine Curzon and directed by Guy Unsworth.

As part of its Coventry UK City of Culture programme, the Belgrade has teamed up with Cardboard Citizens to co-produce the new musical The Ruff Tuff Cream Puff Estate Agency from Saturday, 9th – Saturday, 16th October. Based on a true story from the 1970s, we follow the story of the workings of the world’s first ‘estate agency for squatters’ and the foundation of a new nation, Frestonia. The show is enlivened by a chorus of Coventry citizens who have experienced homelessness. Prior to this, a brand-new performance, carefully created with local people with experiences of homelessness in Coventry as part of their three-week Cardboard Camps residency, will be staged on Friday, 23rd July.

Belgrade Theatre, Dirty Dancing

Following two West End runs, four UK tours, and multiple international productions, Dirty Dancing is back at the Belgrade this autumn from Tuesday, 2nd – Saturday, 6th November. Featuring the iconic hits Hungry Eyes and (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life, we follow two fiercely independent young spirits from different worlds, who come together in what will be the most challenging and triumphant summer of their lives.

The Russian State Ballet return this autumn with three classic ballets, accompanied by a 30-piece orchestra. Experience the beauty of Swan Lake on Thursday, 11th November, Sleeping Beauty on Friday, 12th November and The Nutcracker on Saturday, 13th November.

The Belgrade’s annual Christmas treat for children aged 2-6 arrives this year with Santa’s Magical Mystery Guest. The latest in Imagine Theatre’s hugely popular Santa series, little ones can experience songs and laughter from Thursday, 9th – Friday, 24th December.

Finally, from Monday, 13th – Thursday, 23rd December, the Belgrade and Chipping Norton Theatre present A Christmas Carol, starring David Bradley (Broadchurch, Game of Thrones). Charles Dickens’ classic novel has been adapted for the stage by Simon Callow. Bradley will be joined on stage by acclaimed folk musician and actor Sophie Crawford.

Belgrade Theatre, A Christmas Carol

An eclectic range of live music acts, drama, comedy and family entertainment are already on sale as part of the Belgrade’s Spring 2021 Season. Live music events begin on Thursday 3rd June with I’m Still Standing – The Music of Elton John, as Joel Buckingham performs Sir Elton John’s biggest hits, backed by a live band. The only tribute artist to be chosen by Michael Jackson himself, Navi returns to the Belgrade with The King of Pop – The Legend Continues on Wednesday, 30th June. Spirit of Elvis also arrives in Coventry this season, led by acclaimed frontman Gordon Hendricks on Friday, 2nd July.

Calling Planet Earth celebrates the defining music of the 1980s with symphonic arrangements on Saturday 17 July. Music celebrations continue on Wednesday, 21st July with A Crazy Little Thing Called Queen – a dynamic tribute to one of the world’s greatest and most iconic rock bands. The Best of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons glides into Coventry on Thursday, 22nd July. Audiences can also celebrate the classic songbook that made The Carpenters legendary with The Carpenters Story – Goodbye to Love on Friday 23rd July.

Then in August, the UK Pink Floyd Experience recreate the sights and sounds of the legendary band with video projection on Friday, 13th August. To complete the series of live music acts, Justine Riddoch stars in Totally Tina on Saturday 14 August, celebrating the golden anniversary of the signature tune Proud Mary.

Comedy acts take centre stage in June, as Oddosocks present The Comedy of Errors from Monday 14th – Thursday 17th June. Showcasing their usual brand of chaotic comedy, we follow a servant and master from far off Syracuse who arrive in Ephesus in search of their long-lost twin brothers. In no time at all they are trapped in a terrifying chain of chaotic events.

Alan Ayckbourn’s classic comedy Absurd Person Singular features as the first non-socially distanced performance of the year. Directed by Michael Cabot, the comic masterpiece of social climbing in 1970s suburbia fuses a potent mix of farce and black comedy, and will run from Wednesday 23rd – Saturday 26th June.

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry, Russian State Ballet, Swan Lake
Swan Lake

The Belgrade’s Spring Season also features children’s show Twirlywoos Live! on Tuesday 15 & Wednesday 16 June. From the producers of The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show and Sarah and Duck Live on Stage, Twirlywoos Live! uses inventive puppetry to share the delight of discovery with young fans. The fun for young ones continues from Thursday 5th – Saturday 7th August with Dragons and Mythical Beasts. The creators of Dinosaur World Live present a magical world of myths and legends in this fantastical new show for all the family.

The Spring Season is rounded up with drama from New Earth Theatre and Storyhouse. British-Hong Kong playwright Amy Ng (Under the Umbrella) has adapted August Strindberg’s psychological classic Miss Julie into a new, politically charged production, playing from Thursday 8th – Saturday 10th July. Directed by Dadiow Lin, we follow Julie, the daughter of the island’s British Governor, who crashes the servant’s party downstairs. What starts as a game descends into a fight for survival as sex, power, money and race collide on a hot night in the Pearl River Delta.

All shows in the Belgrade’s Spring Season are now on sale. Shows from September onwards are currently on sale to Members and will go on general sale on Tuesday, 15th June. More shows in the Belgrade’s Autumn Season will be announced on Monday, 12th July.

Tickets are available to book now by calling the box office on 024 7655 3055 (phone lines open Mon – Sat 10.30am to 2pm) or visit www.belgrade.co.uk where prices are cheaper. Please note that shows until Sunday 20 June are socially distanced. Performances from Monday 21st June onwards are being sold at full capacity.