Our La Robeline Story (so far...) L'histouaithe d'La Robeline (d'en par 'chîn...)
In 2004, Richard spent several weeks in France learning how to make Normandy cider with the local cider makers. Being a true enthusiast, he put his tutor on the case to find a Cider press. Eventually he had a call to confirm that a suitable press had been found in an old barn and Richard went over to dismantle it and bring it back to St Ouen. The press turned out to be a "turn of the century" piece of French history, languishing in a Normandy Farm. Thriving on a challenge, and being an engineer who loves old machinery, Richard restored the press and installed it in an out-building at our farmhouse in St Ouen. And so, in 2005, La Robeline Cider Company Ltd was born.
In the Autumn of 2005, with the help of various friends, Richard pressed several tones of apples and produced an authentic “Champagne” style cider, similar to that produced in Jersey 150 years ago. This resulted in twelve hundred bottles of cider which was launched at Farm Fresh Organics in June 2006 and sold out in six weeks.
During the winter of 2005/6, Richard planted two orchards with the help of St Lawrence Growers and has subsequently planted many more and continues to plant bespoke orchards every winter. Each Autumn, La Robeline Cider harvest nearly 30 orchards, the majority of which we have planted over the last few years and that number grows as we continue to plant bespoke orchards each winter.
No chemicals are used in any of the orchards that are harvested for La Robeline cider. Some orchard owners have flocks of sheep which graze under the trees; others have bee hives or cut the grass for hay and some just enjoy their orchards and allow us to harvest the apples each year.
Richard entered the cider in the Royal Bath & West Show in 2007 and was very pleased to win a “Highly Commended” award in his class and in May 2009, the cider won first prize in the International class. In 2015, the medium cider won the coveted 2 Gold Stars in the Great Taste Awards which we were particularly pleased with as it was the first year we had entered.
Since 2009, kegged and “bag in box” cider has been selling very successfully in several local pubs.
For years, Richard wanted to make a Jersey Apple Brandy from his cider and eventually, we were able to acquire a 1950 Parisienne mobile still which Richard has restored and we are now producing our own Eau de Vie dé Jèrri and L’Esprit d' Jèrri, colloquially known as “La Pomm’thie” which is a very smooth apple brandy.
Being passionate supporters of “local”, we were pleased to qualify for membership of Genuine Jersey (a local organisation, membership of which is a guarantee of local provenance) after a couple of years’ production. Sarah joined the Genuine Jersey Committee in 2011 & continues this most enjoyable work today.
The cider is purely fermented apple juice with nothing added and nothing taken away. We are committed to using only local apples and to producing an artisan product, free from any additives.
Over the years, the outside catering arm of La Robeline Cider has expanded and become an integral part of the business. Our famously delicious Saucisse Baguettes are well known on the Festival Scene and the Boat and La Rotissoire de la Robeline have a dedicated following. During 2020 we have been able to adapt our food offerings and the Courtyard and Barn have proved to be delightful venues where guests can enjoy French and Mediterranean style dishes made using the finest local and seasonal ingredients complimented by cider direct from the tank, local beers and good quality wines.