Having carried out the first year's pressing in the single garage at home, we found the next year that with the stored cider as well, we were seriously lacking space. We were then lucky enough to be offered the use of a barn in a farmyard in the next village, where we have been ever since. The press is wheeled out every autumn and the pressing done in the open; we have been very lucky with the weather, apart from one year when the equipment had to be covered with a shelter made of straw bales and tarpaulin, as it never seemed to stop raining.
Over the years, the cider has changed and developed, mostly due to the use of increasingly higher proportions of cider apples used in the blend. This true cider fruit is sourced and collected from growers in Wiltshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, and gives a far greater depth and complexity of flavour than the ordinary cookers and eaters usually associated with East Anglian ciders. Also, all the fruit we use is, if not organically certified, from totally pesticide-free unsprayed orchards.
Another exciting development for us over the last couple of years has been the production of single-variety ciders each made, logically, from one variety of fruit. The origins of some of these types go back to the 17th century and beyond. Recent examples have been Hangdown, Morgan Sweet, Harry Masters Jersey and the delicious Dabinett and Yarlington Mill. The Cider made from these is, in my opinion, wonderful and, to paraphrase the Carlsberg adverts, "We hate to see it go."
Trade can be described as "brisk", especially during the summer months when stocks start to plummet at an alarming rate. Regular outlets continue to be supportive, and we also annually exhibit at all the local beer festivals and further afield.
In summer of 2006, I will be relocating with my family to rural Devon, from whence I originated and spent the first 20 years of my life. I am therefore looking for someone who may be interested in carrying on the business. Apart from anything else, you get to meet some great characters, drink in some fantastic pubs and you take money from the landlord instead of the other way round. I would give full training and help, and even throw in my apprentice, Mr Brown, for good measure! If you want to know more, give me a call. Oh, and I do work full-time at my other job as well, so being a cider-maker could fit into anyone's lifestyle.