Staff from Thatchers Cider have been planting 25,000 new apple trees this spring, in response to the growing demand for the Somerset cidermaker’s products.

This Spring, Thatchers has been planting two of its favourite apple varieties, Dabinett, a vintage bittersweet apple that provides richness and body to its ciders; and Jonagold, a crisp eating apple that provides a beautiful sweet juice. The Jonagold is an important ingredient in its cider Thatchers Haze, being the apple that provides the natural cloudiness in the cider.

Cider lovers throughout the UK are increasingly turning to regionally produced ciders from family cidermakers such as Thatchers for their quality and provenance. Thanks to this, many of the national supermarkets are now stocking a much wider range of Thatchers ciders, including Thatchers Gold, Haze and its two new ciders, Barrel Roller and Leaf Twister.

Martin Thatcher, fourth generation cidermaker says, “There’s a real recognition by the national supermarkets that shoppers are wanting to purchase cider brands that offer authenticity. We’ve been making cider at Myrtle Farm for four generations – you can have no more genuine heritage than that.  The ciders that we produce are done so with a passion for a consistently high quality and great taste, and as a result they’re in rising demand up and down the country.”

Staff from throughout Thatchers always help with the tree planting, one of the most important times of the cidermaking year.

“This year we’re planting 25,000 new trees on new land and within some existing orchards,” explains Martin. “It’s always an exciting time of year when many of our Myrtle Farm-based staff help out in the orchards. This spring we’ve been aided by the mild and dry weather.

 “We’ve been planting two of our favourite apple varieties this year. Dabinett which we use in a number of our ciders is a classic cider apple that brings richness and body. The second is Jonagold, which is a sweet dessert apple that our cidermakers love for its crispness.”

 Martin, who planted his first apple tree at the age of 5 at Myrtle Farm, always joins the orchard team during planting. His children, Eleanor and Peter, are also keen to play their part during school holidays and weekends.

 As well as cultivating apples in its own orchards, Thatchers has a number of long term contracts with specialist growers throughout the apple growing regions of the South West and Herefordshire.

“We have an extended family of specialist growers who provide us with great quality apples and have done so for many years,” continues Martin. “They all make a valuable contribution to our cidermaking process, helping us deliver sufficient quantities of apples into our mill at harvest time to meet the demand for our ciders all year round.

“Apples are very much like vines, in that different varieties of apples suit different soil types. For that reason we have growers in different regions who can provide us with the specific apple varieties our cidermakers need for our different ciders.  

“Over half of all the apples grown in this country are used to make cider,” concludes Martin.  “The contribution that the cider industry makes to the rural economy through its orchards is significant. But with apple trees taking six or seven years to start cropping fully, and orchards lasting around 40 years, planting orchards now is a long term commitment for the future and a responsibility that we here at Thatchers we take seriously.”