Sandford Orchards is delighted to launch the 2023 Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards. Now in its third year, these unique awards are free to enter and offer aspiring cider makers advice, guidance and guaranteed listings with the on and off trade. This year, the competition is open to cider makers making up to 50,000 litres a year. The closing date for applications is 28th February 2023. 

Barny Butterfield, Chief Cidermaker at Sandford Orchards explains: ”We created the Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards three years ago to support the future of our precious UK cider industry. We aim to seek out Britain’s most talented cider makers and provide them with invaluable exposure, mentoring, advice and technical help as well as guaranteed listings in both the on and off trade. Winning this award provides small scale cider makers with the help and opportunities that they need to progress their business to the next level!”

The 2023 prize includes: business strategy mentoring with Barny Butterfied, founder of Sandford Orchards, a retail listing at Darts Farm, Devon, on-trade listing with one of The Stable restaurants and The London Cider House, £500 to spend with equipment and consumables supplier, Vigo limited, mentoring from Sandford Orchards’ cider makers, and a Sandford Orchards winner limited edition cider. Two silver winners will receive a £200 voucher to spend with The Bag in Box Shop. Moreover, everybody who enters will receive thorough, detailed, actionable feedback on their entry.

The winner will be chosen by a panel of expert judges. Tom Oliver, owner of Oliver’s Cider and Perry and one of last year’s judges comments: “It was a real honour to be able to taste some of the more forward thinking and progressive cider makers at last year’s Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards. The amount of discussion that ensued between the judges was a great indication of the quality of the cider but also of the many aspects that cider makers need to cover. They must want to grow, whether it is in size or quality, must give great attention to labels, both legally and design wise. They must leave the judges feeling that they really do want to “make a go of things”. If you think as a maker this is you, then this is the award to go for.”

Barny adds: “I am so proud that Sandford Orchards has been able to make these awards a reality. It feels great to be able to give something back to the industry that has given me so much. Bringing cider makers together is always brilliant for sharing ideas and dreaming up plans which we all hope will bring the joy of cider to more and more people. By supporting the energetic future of cider across the country we hope to reach out to curious wine, beer and spirit drinkers and grow the love for this marvellous drink.”

The Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards were launched by Sandford Orchards at the end of 2019 and aim to recognise and celebrate excellent quality whole juice ciders from around the UK. They are free to enter and open to cider makers producing between 3,000 and 50,000 litres of cider per year who can enter now at

Sandford Orchards would like to thank the generous sponsors of this year’s competition: Vigo Ltd who are providing a £500 voucher for the gold winner,  The Stable and The London Cider House who will give the Gold winner a listing and The Bag in Box Shop who are giving away £200 vouchers to two silver winners.

For further information on Sandford Orchards and the Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards please visit email or follow Sandford Orchards on Twitter, Facebook and  Instagram

Image of last year’s judging available here.



Thatchers launches its 2023 Community Orchard Project

Thatchers launches its 2023 Community Orchard Project

Eleanor Thatcher visited The Farm Animal Sanctuary in Evesham, who received a bundle of apple trees as part of the 2022 Thatchers Community Orchard Project. L to r, Eleanor Thatcher (Thatchers Cider), Connah Barr, Jan Cooper and Nick Jones from The Farm Animal Sanctuary.

Thatchers Cider launched its 2023 Community Orchard Project on the 4th January 2023.

In the third year of the project, the Somerset cider maker is looking to give away 500 apple trees to community groups up and down the country, encouraging planting in both urban and rural communities.

Groups can apply to be considered for a bundle of 5 apple trees each by visiting

The simple application form asks for details of their community group, describing how the trees will be of benefit to them. Applications open on the 4th January and close on 3rd February 2023.

“Planting trees means so much to us as cider makers, and we want to spread our passion far and wide,” says fourth generation cider maker Martin Thatcher, who planted his first apple tree aged five.

“We all know that planting trees helps the environment but being out in nature is so good for well-being too. Over the last two years our project has been able to help residential groups rewild their communities and help care homes create peaceful havens for residents.

“We’re looking forward to hearing from groups again in 2023 and help spread our love of apple trees far and wide.”

In 2022, Thatchers gave away 350 apple trees, to over 50 organisations across the UK, doubling the number it was able to support in the project’s first year.



Sandford Orchards celebrate their 20th anniversary

Sandford Orchards celebrate their 20th anniversary

In 2002 Barny Butterfield began making cider in a shed. Fast forward 20 years and he is Chief Cidermaker and owner of Sandford Orchards, a business that produces over 7 million pints of cider per year, yet still retains Barny’s original vision, to produce the best tasting cider ‘done right’.

Barny Butterfield comments: “ In the beginning, cider making was really just a hobby but one that I seemed to have some talent for. It was also something that I was incredibly passionate about, right from the outset. Eventually, it was clear that either my hobby or my day job had to go and I made the decision to put all my efforts into Sandford Orchards. It is a decision that I have never regretted. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to create such a successful business doing something that I truly enjoy.”

In the early years, business growth was slow, as Barny navigated a steep learning curve with limited staff (mostly family and friends paid in cider) and equipment. However, producing top quality cider was always his focus and in 2010 he won CAMRA Champion Cider of Great Britain. This threw Sandford Orchards into the spotlight and this recognition gave Barny the confidence to invest in and expand the business. 

The next step was to buy the Cider Works in Crediton and bring it back to life as the oldest working cider mill in the country. This enabled Sandford Orchards to increase capacity and establish itself as a serious player in the cider industry. Growth continued at a steady pace and then at the end of 2019, they made the strategic decision to invest heavily in a full rebrand. Alongside this, they expanded their packaging capability by setting up their own canning line, replacing their bottling line with brand new state of the art machinery and increasing automation in their kegging line. 

Barny explains: “The last few years have seen the most rapid growth for the business. Having invested over £1.2 million in 2020 on our rebrand and new equipment, we can now produce 3,500 cans per hour and 6,000 bottles, so that we can supply more of our great tasting cider to more people. This means that, as well as being available in pubs, hospitality venues, off licences and independent shops, our cider has also now made it onto the shelves of high street retailers including Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Aldi, Spar  and The Co-op.”

Although the business, in some ways, has grown beyond all recognition from its humble beginnings in a lean-to on the farm, it still shares his original vision to create fantastic authentic cider. Over the years, Sandford Orchards’ cider has scooped a host of national and international awards that confirm that they are continuing to produce some of the best cider around. However, Barny is never one to rest on his laurels, he wants to ensure that generations to come can continue to enjoy award-winning cider, which is why he is working hard to protect orchards for the future and encourage the next cohort of real cider makers.

Barny elaborates: “They’ve been making real cider in the UK for over 2,000 years and I want to make sure that tradition continues. Recently, we’ve been working with Bristol University to map the DNA of ancient apple trees in our orchards, so we can identify vulnerable and unique varieties and protect them for the future. We also want to encourage the next batch of cider makers and have instigated The Sandford Orchards Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards, which offer aspiring cider makers advice, guidance and guaranteed listings in the on and off trade.”

Meanwhile, Sandford Orchards continues to grow at the fastest pace in its 20 year history. Barny adds: “ We are proud to still be an independent, family-owned business and we are in a really healthy place that allows us to reinvest in the business and our staff. We still press and ferment whole juice from the finest apples and age it to perfection to create fabulous cider. Our continued growth simply means more people get to enjoy it and that is exactly why I started making cider twenty years ago.”

For further information on Sandford Orchards please visit

Britain’s Cider Makers Celebrate Apple Day 2022

Britain’s Cider Makers Celebrate Apple Day 2022

21 October 2022 –  Cider makers across the UK are celebrating Apple Day by sharing the importance of orcharding and cider making. A crucial part of the country’s economy, cider making not only supports employment, farming, and sustainability, but boosts tourism particularly in the West, Southwest and West Midlands.

Apples, that are only suitable for making cider, grow in abundance throughout the orchards in the country and it is the skill of the cider maker to turn those apples into a delicious drink. British cider producers are part of an industry that is steeped in heritage with traditional, artisan expertise passed down through the generations.

Fenella Tyler, Chief Executive at National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) said:   “Apple Day gives cider makers the opportunity to promote their trade and highlight the importance of cider making to their local community. The industry provides much needed support to the broader rural economy providing over 11,500 rural jobs across the UK and attracting tourists from around the country and the rest of the world.


The culture of cider making is interwoven within the fabric of local communities and is essential to sustaining rural areas. The industry supports local amenities and charities, funding wildlife ventures and community orchards. It is essential that the British heritage of cider making is supported.”

Throughout the UK there are three hundred farmers growing over sixteen thousand acres of orchards that are often handed down through generations. This farmland crucially preserves the UK’s biodiversity by attracting wildlife, and more specifically bees, that are needed for pollination. Once produced, cider flies the flag for British food and drink with over £100million of exports of cider per year.

About Apple Day

Apple Day, 21 October, was launched in 1990 by Common Ground. The aspiration was to create a calendar custom, an autumn holiday. From the start, Apple Day was intended to be both a celebration and a demonstration of the variety we are in danger of losing, not simply in apples, but in the richness and diversity of landscape, ecology and culture too. It has also played a part in raising awareness in the provenance and traceability of food.

Hereford AppleFest Banquet 8 October 2022

Hereford AppleFest Banquet 8 October 2022

To celebrate the inaugural Hereford AppleFest, the City of Hereford’s historic Town Hall will host an apple-themed banquet on Saturday 8 October at 7pm.

Our region has the perfect soils and weather to grow the finest apples in the world, not to mention centuries of experience in crafting fine apple juice, cider and perry.

Guests are invited to celebrate the 2022 harvest with Martin Carter’s (Saxtys’ Executive Chef) unique apple-infused menu. Using local ingredients, each of the dishes are matched with ciders and perries from some of the region’s leading producers – including

The banquet will take place in the majestic Assembly Hall, the scene of many lavish banquets over the 120 year history of the Grade II listed Town Hall. With its magnificent ornate ceiling, beautiful stained glass, and atmospheric oak panelling, don’t miss the chance to sample this exquisitely designed menu celebrating Herefordshire’s special relationship with the apple in this unique setting.

This experience is certain to book up quickly! To secure your ticket please visit

Key-note speakers for the evening: Global cider expert, The Ciderologist, Gabe Cook, and the UK’s first Pommelier, Jane Peyton, School of Booze.

Tickets: £60 including welcome drink, key-note speakers, three course meal with matching ciders and perries, and coffee and mints at the close. Vegan/vegetarian/special dietary alternatives are available.


Apples are big in Much Marcle!

Apples are big in Much Marcle!

Cider presses are well into action in this corner of Herefordshire, and Big Apple venues are once again standing by to welcome visitors to the Marcle Ridge on Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th October.  The apple harvest is in full swing, and no matter which way you turn in Much Marcle, apples are everywhere!  Not to mention pears – perry pears of course.

Nine familiar Big Apple venues, including Woodredding, Lyne Down, Pope’s Perry, Hellens, Gregg’s Pit and Awnells Farm, alongside regular attractions at Westons Cider, are waiting to welcome visitors to enjoy the orchards, to see, hear and smell cider being made and to taste many different varieties of apples, local ciders, perries and apple juices.  And don’t miss apple teas at the Memorial Hall!

This year’s highlights include giving a hand to press perry pears from the ancient avenue at Hellens Manor, discovering edible hedges, wheeling along with the Big Apple Bike Ride and tasting Jolly G’s Golden Guernsey Goat Milk Ice Cream.  The ever popular ‘high-altitude’ tutored cider tastings are back on the Marcle Ridge, with musical interludes from Uke Can’t Be Serious and Leominster Morris.  Practical sessions on maintaining orchards and wildflower areas with the traditional craft of scything, tool sharpening, and the chance to buy refurbished garden tools are a ‘must-do’ for those who like to do things for themselves.  Talks on ‘Cider Country’, ‘John Philips, Hereford’s Georgian cider poet’ and the search for lost varieties of perry pears round off the programme.  Full details of venues and special events, and advance booking where required, can be found at

The Big Apple is delighted to be working alongside others this year to place apples right at the heart of Herefordshire under the umbrella of Hereford AppleFest.

Jackie Denman
Secretary, Big Apple Association Ltd.
Tel. 01531 670544