Bid to give Devon cider protected status fails

The Devon Cidermakers Guild (DCG) has failed in an application to have Devon cider registered as a protected food name

The group had claimed the uniqueness of its members’ cider products and the characteristics of the county environment qualified it to become a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).

In an application to Defra, they said the county has one of the oldest traditions of cider making in the United Kingdom, its ciders being typically clear, softer in character and sweeter in taste than ciders from surrounding counties.

The softer character and rich colour of Devon Cider has been traditionally attributed to the red soils found throughout the county.

They claimed the terroir of Devon, it’s climate, soil, and native microflora, meant that varieties of any apples grown in Devon, native or otherwise, are noticeably distinct from the apples grown in other counties, even those of the same variety.

A historical feature of Devon Cider was that it is usually clarified after fermentation, Hugh Stafford records in 1753 that Devonshire cider was differentiated from the ciders of Hereford and Somerset by its clarity.

The UK has 61 geographically protected names which gives legal protection against imitation if it is decided the product has a reputation, characteristics or qualities that are a result of the area it’s associated with.

The designation would become especially important when the UK leaves the EU and would impact on the ability of producers to protect their products.

But in rejecting the application, Defra said Devon is a geologically diverse county with a wide range of rock types (Chalk, Devonian limestones, red sandstones, granites, Culm Measures etc.) and therefore soil types.

The characteristics of “Devon Cider” would depend on whether the cider apples are all grown on one rock type. If they are grown across a range of rock types a link between Devon geology and the cider apples would be much harder to make.

Cider orchards are located throughout Devon with the exception of moorland areas on different rock and soil types. Any effect the geology and microflora may have on the apples will therefore depend on the location of the orchard.

Defra concluded: “It is considered that the applicant group have failed to sufficiently demonstrate that the quality or characteristics of Devon Cider are essentially or exclusively due to the particular geographical environment of Devon.”

A spokesperson for the DCG said: “It’s a great shame that they have taken such a narrow view of the best interests of the cider industry.”