Autumn 2020 marked forty years since Ivor and Susie pressed the first traditional varieties of unsprayed cider apples delivered in 25kg sacks from small, local farms to Hays Head, Pembridge.
At that time the large industrial cider makers were pressing less English cider apples and were becoming increasingly dependent on imported apple concentrate made from dessert fruit. As Susie and Ivor traveled the county they saw productive orchards with the fruit rotting on the ground.
In the 1970s the cider market in Britain was controlled by a small number of enormous cider producers; nearly all the small-scale, farmgate selling cider makers were located in the south-west in Somerset and Devon. Herefordshire had been one of the main growers of cider varieties for centuries. Initially in Herefordshire the bulk of the fruit was pressed and fermented for domestic consumption. Then, nearly three hundred years ago, in 1727, Symonds Cider and English Wine Company of Stoke Lacy was founded. Over a hundred and fifty years later two more large-scale commercial cider businesses were established in Herefordshire and gradually farmhouse production declined and nearly all the apples harvested were sold to these producers or to industrial cider makers in other parts of the country.
In 1980 Ivor and Susie, with machinery last used generations ago, and an old half-timbered granary reconstructed on site to be the cider shop, milled and pressed ancient, unsprayed varieties of cider apples such as Foxwhelp, Brown Snout and Frequin Rouge, all picked separately in small quantities, from a museum orchard along the lane at Broxwood and other local farms. This allowed Susie and Ivor to understand the individual characteristics of the various varieties. Then the juice bubbled through the winter as it fermented to become cider the following spring to be sold and enjoyed.
There have been many developments over the last forty years as we have grown as a business. We now have a range of multi-award winning Soil Association certified organic ciders and perry sold all over the world. You can order them direct to your door from our online shop.
Deliveries of apples are now often in 30 tonne loads and the pressing takes place in Cheltenham. However we still press fruit from Susie and Ivor's Pembridge orchards, as we did forty years ago, as well as from close network of local organic farmers within the 3 cider making counties - Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire. We continue to grow and make our cider with Susie and Ivor's pioneering spirit, artisan vision and passion for organic growing, long may we continue.