Updated on 26 January 2024
Reading time: 5 minutes
Discover the essence of Normandy, renowned for its apple orchards and delicious apple-based drinks. Cider enthusiasts, why not join a cider crafting workshop led by a local producer to uncover the secrets of cider production while you’re in the region? This sensory journey through the aromas of apples and on-hand experience of traditional cider-making concludes by bottling your own cider creation to take back home!
In the heart of the Eure department, near Gisors, lies the enchanting Mont Viné Cidery, which often welcomes visitors to their property with the melodic sounds of the horses neighing. We are met by Constance, the owner, whose bubbly energy mirrors the lively spirit of her craft. we follow her through 5 hectares of beautiful orchards, each apple tree standing as a living testament to the meticulous care bestowed upon them. They are carefully distinguished between tall and low, the latter proving more prolific.
The richness of orchard diversity unfolds through a fascinating array of apple varieties, each bearing evocative and unique names in French such as “le moine doux” (the gentle monk), “la peau de chien” (dog’s skin), “le petit jaune” (little yellow), and “la douce coët ligné” (the sweet coët ligné). These appellations, steeped in character and tradition, create an authentic touch to the cider experience, revealing a profound connection with the land and the unique flavours of the region. Constance introduces us to the art of blending —balancing the acidity, sweetness, bitterness, and bittersweetness. It is fascinating to learn about the step-by-step process of cider making!
Greeted with a warm cider!
As we enter a warehouse-style space with huge fermentation tanks, the producer invites us to sit on benches, setting a relaxed vibe. We are greeted with mugs steaming with warm cider, a unique blend of the golden apple beverage, orange, cinnamon, honey, and star anise hits the spot. Delicious! My attention is drawn to some shelves adorned with creatively labeled cider bottles, artisanal liqueurs, apple jellies, and various local delights. It’s a feast for the eyes! In this cosy ambiance, Constance begins to narrate the captivating tale of the place.
A family-owned organic farm
Generations ago, in the 1930s, Constance’s great-grandfather laid the foundation here. Then, the torch was passed to her grandfather and father. Nowadays, she is the one proudly carrying on the legacy of the Hyest family. It’s her turn to steer the course of the farm! A few years back, she decided to transition the orchard to organic farming and embrace a more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach. Besides mastering cider production, she also cultivates flax, beets, and grains. Constance explains that in the tight cider-making community of Normandy, solidarity is crucial.
Now, it’s our time to shine! Constance hands us a carafe and we start sampling ciders from each tank, noticing the colour variations from one sample to the next.
Creating Your Blend: The Art of Alchemy!
We step into a bright room, changing the scene for the next adventure. The first exercise involves testing our sense of smell. Some scents are easy to identify, like vanilla or lemongrass, while others are more challenging. Claire steals the spotlight, unveiling the essence of leather. Constance then brings out graduated beakers, introducing us to the alchemy of sugar density. “The second cider is balanced, ready to be bottled” says Constance before asking for our thoughts on the other samples. Some samples are more acidic (sharp), some acetic (vinegary), others fruity, sulfuric, or sweet. After the chemistry course , it’s time for some maths to calculate the density of our mixture and determine whether it falls into the dry, semi-dry, or sweet cider category. A journey through the senses, blending science and artistry into the perfect cider creation!
Customization and bottling
As we conclude our cider workshop, each of us has crafted a unique “recipe”. The final act is to pour it into our personalized bottle, give it a inspiring name, and seal it with a cork. With our individual creations in hand, the excitement is palpable, but patience is the key—waiting at least a month before we can savour the fruits of our labour. Will my cider live up to expectations? I certainly hope so!
*Alcohol can be harmful to health. Consume in moderation.
*While the workshop unfolds in French, a practical booklet in English guides you through each step of the cider-blending process, making the experience easily accessible to English-speaking audiences. This touch of authenticity, set against the backdrop of a French cider farm, adds a delightful and enriching dimension to the workshop.
Cider House “Cidrerie du Mont Viné”
1 rue Saint-Thomas
+ 33 (0)2 32 27 29 03
Cider Blending Workshop: for groups of 6 to 24 participants. Individual participants can join an existing group.
January 2024: Saturday 13, 20, 27
Sunday 21, 28
February 2024: Saturday 10, 17
Sunday 11, 18
More dates TBC in November and December 2024
Cider Blending Workshop (approx. 3 hours ): 54 € / person
Getting FROM PARIS to GISORS WITH PUBLIC TRANSPORT
If you are travelling from Paris, the Transilien line J departing from Saint-Lazare, connects Paris to Gisors.