Celebrating the county’s vibrant food and drink scene, Food Drink Devon hosted their first-ever Harvest Gathering on Friday 22nd September, inspired by the close proximity of three of the region’s highly respected drinks producers.
Hunts Cider, Bays Brewery and Sandridge Barton the home of Sharpham Wine, who are all positioned a couple of miles from one another in South Devon, jointly hosted the Harvest Gathering and welcomed 50 guests from the region’s food and drink industry as well as local media and influencers.
During the Harvest Gathering guests were treated to an impressive tour of Hunt’s Cider and the family’s historic orchards aboard a specially adapted trailer towed by a tractor, before travelling a mile up the road to family run Bays Brewery and then onto the spectacular Sandridge Barton.
“It’s the first Harvest Gathering we’ve hosted and, given its success, I hope there will be many more”, commented Food Drink Devon’s chair, Greg Parsons.
The Harvest Gathering also allowed other Devon producers to display their products at each of the venues. Specialist flour millers Fresh Flour, jam and preserve-makers Waterhouse Fayre, Ebb Tides Seaweeds of Sidmouth and Sharpham Cheese all conducted tastings at Hunts Cider. Wood fired pizzas were served by Artisan Pizzeria at Bays Brewery and Thunderflower Gin, Hattiers Rum, Papillon Gin, Devon Cove Vodka and Boo Chi Kombucha offered samples of their drinks at Sandridge Barton.
“The fact is that these businesses have interesting stories to tell. It dawned on us that we need to try and find new ways of making sure that people within the trade, and more importantly consumers, understand what goes on around them, especially in an agricultural county like Devon”, continued Greg.
Head cider-maker, Richard Hunt from Hunts Cider said on the Harvest Gathering: “When Sharpham Wine moved across the River Dart to Sandridge Barton, we realised that we’ve got three reasonably prominent Devon drinks-makers all here in a small triangle – so we felt we should put on an event to showcase our wears and also invite some other Food Drink Devon members along to show their produce.”
“As an organisation, Food Drink Devon is really big for us. The annual awards each year help to validate what we do and show the quality that we’re producing,” said Richard, whose family has been making cider in the parish in the hills behind Paignton for eight generations. Richard and his sister Annette have massively increased the volume and turnover over the past seven years and Hunts is now one of the leading cider companies in the region, creating half a million pints each year.
Bays Brewery Director, Peter Salmon, told visitors at the event: “Here at Bays Brewery, we pride ourselves on serving a true taste of Devon through our firmly established flagship ales and refreshing craft lagers. We are lucky to share our patch with some equally passionate Devon drink suppliers and the Harvest Gathering event was a great occasion that showcased their own fantastic local offerings alongside our own.”
Sandridge Barton’s head winemaker and CEO, Duncan Schwab was equally enthusiastic: “It is amazing that three highly respected drinks producers are located in one small area of Devon – and it is very much worthwhile coming together at an event like this in order to tell the world about the fact we’re all here and flourishing.”
Duncan added: “But you need a catalyst like Food Drink Devon to help make it all come together and I am grateful to them and to the other producers who came along, for helping to make the event such a success. It’s been marvellous to have shown so many people in the food and drink industry and the media around our vineyards at exactly the time when we are beginning this year’s grape harvest. And a very good vintage it looks certain to be!”
Food Drink Devon is committed to increasing the county’s profile, both nationally and internationally and represents a membership of Devon’s leading food and drink producers, speciality retailers, hospitality and catering businesses. Through working with like-minded businesses, together they showcase Devon as a county where the use of fantastic quality, seasonal and local produce is standard. The organisation and its members share a commitment to enjoy, inspire and discover more about food and drink. Look out for their green heart logo which is carried by over 350 producers and businesses across Devon.