Sandford Orchards and the University of Exeter unveil first truly unique cider production technique in 100 years.  Release to coincide with launch of a novel new Cider using Pioneering On-Leaf Fermentation Method.

Devon cider makers Sandford Orchards unveiled their new Fine Cider Range today, involving a pioneering new technique which has its roots both in winemaking and ancient cider production.  Sandford Orchards’ new single variety Yarlington Mill cider is produced using ‘on leaf’ fermentation, a concept inspired by whole-bunch fermentation found in modern winemaking. This is the first time this method of fermentation has been used to produce a cider.  

The idea of adding fresh apple leaves to fermentation first came to Barny Butterfield, owner of Sandford Orchards, after reading yeast trial results from the 1900s. Building on the concept, Barny added fresh apple leaves from a Sweet Alford tree to a batch of single variety Yarlington Mill juice at harvest.  “I wanted to see if the leaves had an impact on the aromatics of the juice, as hinted in the trial results” explained Barny, “and we were blown away by the results.” Blind tastings of the juice have produced a wide range of comments pronouncing the juice “fresher and fruiter, with extra zing”.

To add strength to the findings Sandford Orchards called on their connections with the University of Exeter mycology department. Inspired by the taste findings, the team are currently working on profiling the metabolic pathway of the microbes present in the on-leaf fermentation, alongside other research including gene sequencing and microbiome comparison.  “We are delighted to be working alongside Sandford Orchards on this project” commented Dr Jane Usher, University of Exeter. “The on-leaf fermentation produces a profoundly more impressive bouquet with increased complexity and subtlety, I am optimistic that our research will help us to understand the reasons behind it”.

A small release of 100 cases of the first batch on Yarlington Mill – On-leaf is now available alongside Tremletts Bitter, Single Variety Cider, the second cider in Sandford Orchards’ Fine Cider Range, which uses natural yeasts found in the Cider Works, Sandford Orchards’ home, and a working cider works since 1932.  

For more information please call Barny Butterfield on  07961 148593 or email Charlotte on

About Sandford Orchards

Sandford Orchards are craft cider makers from the heart of Devon. The rich red, fertile soil of mid Devon and the unique micro-climate that comes from being nestled between two moors makes the perfect growing environment for cider apples, which is why they only use cider apples from within 30 miles of their press.