From customer to business owner
When Brock Bergius nipped out to buy a bottle of local cider to enjoy with a summer’s evening barbeque, he didn’t expect it to lead to a whole new business venture.
Brock Bergius was spending the weekend with some friends in West Sussex when they suggested calling in to Gospel Green Cyder. Stocks were low and chatting to the owners, James and Cathy Lane, it became clear that they were in the process of shutting up shop ahead of their retirement.
“I stood there listening to Cathy describing her and James’s decision to retire meaning the Gospel Green I had come to love would be no more. In a heartbeat I knew I had to save it” explains Brock. “I loved the business and wanted to ensure its survival – simple as that!”
At the time Brock was looking for a new venture, having worked in commercial property in London. His family does, however, have strong roots in the drinks industry with his grandfather having been chairman of the family whisky business, Teacher’s. “Perhaps it was inevitable I would enter the drinks trade at some point” reflects Brock.
Pleased to have someone eager to take over the business, James Lane spent a considerable amount of time working closely with Brock to share his knowledge and expertise. Gospel Green Cyder is made in the same way that champagne is produced, the only difference is that it uses apples rather than grapes. Unknown to many, it is actually a technique which was pioneered in England and predates the champagne industry in France.
Gospel Green’s new home is based at Hampshire’s Blackmoor Estate as they have been growing and supplying Gospel Green with apples for more than twenty years. A blend of cooking and dessert apples are used, usually incorporating between five or six varieties.
“The apples are all handpicked to ensure the finest quality. Each crate is labelled with where and when they were picked and who was the lead picker - provenance is extremely important to us” explains Brock.
Once all the apples have been picked and carefully stored they are then pressed on site by Brock and his team. Gospel Green has a light natural sparkle which is developed in the bottle during the second stage fermentation. “Our cyder is crisp with a light acidity and slight earthiness coming through on the palate” comments Brock. “There are aromatics of elderflower, brioche and green apples. It can be enjoyed chilled on its own or use it as a base for a delicious Aperol Spritz or a Kier Royale.”
Brock admits that for Gospel Green and other high-end cider makers the challenge can be shaking off the perception by many that cider is a rough and unsophisticated drink. “Our cyder can be drunk in place of any decent Prosecco, Champagne or English Sparkling Wine” explains Brock. “It can be really rewarding watching someone who claims to not like cider try a sip of Gospel Green and realise just how good our cyder tastes!”
During July’s Hampshire Food Festival organised by Hampshire Fare, there is an opportunity to visit Gospel Green for a tour and tasting. Running Monday-Thursday, 11am-3pm, throughout July, tickets are £6. Discover more and check out all 100+ events for food lovers taking place at locations across Hampshire from the 1-31st July, see event programme.