THE flavours of the West Country are being celebrated with a wide range of tours and tastings this summer.

West Country Food Adventures was created by the team behind the multi-award winning eat:Festivals, and has been encouraging residents and tourists alike to visit the premises of their best-loved producers. The programme of activities has included the chance to make your own scotch egg, take part in a foraging walk or enjoy a barbecue while listening to some blues.

Amongst the producers offering a tour and tasting was the Dorset Nectar Cider Farm at Waytown near Bridport. Visitors were invited to sample the 12 ciders produced from the orchards and find out more about how the drink is made.

Oliver and Penny, owners of the farm, fell into cider-making almost by accident. They purchased the barn in Waytown in 2006, when Oliver, an international metal sculptor, needed a site outside of the village to craft his sculptures. The barn happened to come with 3,000 prime cider apple trees under a Gaymers contract. The couple began making a small amount of cider straight away, a history of engineering and horticulture between them. Realising that the Gaymers contract was too demanding, Penny asked the company if they could send less apples, but the reply was "all or nothing."

With the support of their five children, Penny and Oliver quit the contract and began making cider commercially. Ever since, Dorset Nectar Cider has gone from strength to strength, using only the best quality apples from their own orchards and local growers.

The business now produces 12 different ciders, from the mellow Hunny Bubble Cider made with real Dorset honey, to the Dabinett Single Variety Cider which boasts a spicy apple finish. The Elderflower Sparkling Cider is made with berries from the farm's hedgerows, while the Mulled Cider bottles the sweet and spicy spirit of autumn.

Other products produced from the orchard include apple juice and cider vinegar.

Sarah Milner Simons, one of the organisers of West Country Food Adventures, said: "When we chose to live in Somerset, we got to know our new home by eating and drinking our way around the county. A basket of apples or little shed of eggs by a cottage garden would have us screech to a halt for the freshest produce. This was real farming, with little input other than sun, soil, rain and deep understanding.

"Little by little we understood how remarkable and precious were the people who use this unique landscape to develop our heritage of food and drink. It made us relish our finds more, because we knew the stories of how much skill and graft had gone into their creation."

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