The results are in for this year’s Sandford Orchards Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards and the 2022 gold winner is Moons Cider with silvers being awarded to Rawlins Family Cider and Artistraw. The Sandford Orchards Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards, now in their second year, are remarkable awards that offer aspiring cider makers advice, guidance and guaranteed listings in the on and off trade and truly support the future of cider in the UK.

Barny Butterfield, Chief Cidermaker at Sandford Orchards and instigator of the awards comments: “Unlike other awards we provide detailed actionable feedback for absolutely everyone who entered, with constructive comments that we hope will help them develop their cider making skills. After the success of the first competition back in 2020, we were thrilled to see so much interest in the awards this year.”

Tom Moon from Moons Cider was delighted to receive the award and says: “Winning the Sandford Orchards Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards’ means a lot to me. With the high standard of ciders that were entered into the competition, it makes all the hard work that goes into cider making worth it when you achieve a Gold award like this.”  

Barny continues: “We had a total of twenty entries, from thirteen different counties, with all styles of cider being represented. Naturally sweet to single variety, session ciders to bottle fermented. The judges were very impressed with the level of quality of the ciders entered – a significant improvement from the inaugural competition. A real compliment to the standard of cider now being produced in the UK.”

The judging panel was a veritable who’s who in the world of cider including The Ciderologist, Gabe Cook and renowned cider maker, Tom Oliver who were joined by drinks writer, Susy Atkins, Rich Clancy from The Stable and George Dart from Darts Farm.

Tom Oliver comments: “I was blown away with these cider makers’ endeavour, intent and inspiration. A hugely impressive group, and a worthy winner – clearly a young man full of ambition and energy.”

Gabe Cook adds: “This year’s awards were a step up from the last outing, in both liquid and packaging. There was a pleasing range of styles and occasions from bone dry to grippy, and keeved. An array of playful techniques and a fantastic geographical spread.”

The prize packages which will be awarded to the winner and two runners up include a 12 month listing at Darts Farm, Devon, a listing at a local Stable Pizza and mentoring from Sandford Orchards, including a tour of their site. The overall winner will also receive a £500 Vigo voucher, a Sandford Orchards collaboration limited edition cider and a visit to the winner’s site by Sandford Orchards’ cider makers to offer practical help and advice about set up.

Barny finishes: “It has been so rewarding to be part of these awards, to see them grow and to meet so many enthusiastic cider makers. My congratulations go to Moons Cider, Rawlins Family Cider and Artistraw. I will be watching with interest to see how they capitalise on the support this fantastic award provides and I am already looking forward to next year’s competition with great excitement.”

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

Breakthrough Cider Maker Competition

Breakthrough Cider Maker Competition

Following the success of the inaugural Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards, entries are now open for 2022. These remarkable awards are free to enter and offer aspiring cider makers advice, guidance and guaranteed listings with the on and off trade. The closing date for applications is 28th February.

Barny Butterfield, Chief Cidermaker at Sandford Orchards explains: ”The Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards are nothing like any other cider competition. It’s the competition that I wish I could have won when I was starting out. Without a budget, without much help and support, it can be really daunting trying to get started in any career, let alone cider. The winners of these awards benefit from priceless help on the journey: mentoring, advice on strategy and branding, technical help with cider production and guaranteed listing in both on and off trade. This is an award with the kind of bankable bonus that doesn’t grow on trees!”

The 2022 prize includes: business strategy mentoring with Barny Butterfield, founder of Sandford Orchards, a retail listing at Darts Farm, Devon, on-trade listing with one of The Stable restaurants, £500 to spend with equipment and consumables supplier, Vigo limited, mentoring from our cider makers, including a visit to our site and theirs and a Sandford Orchards winner limited edition cider. Moreover, everybody who enters will receive thorough, detailed, actionable feedback on their entry.

Barny continues: “The cider makers entering the Breakthrough Awards have their sights set on growing and improving all parts of their businesses and to get more of their fantastic ciders into more hands. The BCMA is a slingshot prize to a cider maker that the judges feel has the kind of promise, purpose and potential to go to the next level. We were overwhelmed by the high standard of entries last year and look forward to meeting even more dedicated fledgling producers this year.”

The winner of the inaugural awards was Thornborough cider. Owner, Kingsley Ash, explains: “Winning the Breakthrough Awards not only gave us validation and confirmation that we were doing the right thing, but also gave us access to a network of experts for advice, feedback, inspiration and guidance. The prizes themselves have been great, with the Vigo voucher enabling us to up our output, which was lucky as our orders increased significantly over the duration of the award. It has had a hugely positive impact on our business. Any cider makers with ambitions for growth should definitely apply.”

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 15,000 litres of cider per year who can enter now at sandford

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

  • Key Dates
    • Entries close 28th Feb
    • Sample deadline 7th Mar
    • Shortlist announced 21st March
    • April – winners announced.
  • The prizes for 2022 for the Gold & Silver winners are:
    • A 12 month listing at Dart’s Farm
    • A listing at their most local Stable
    • Mentoring from our cider makers, including a visit to our site
    • Everybody who enters will receive thorough, detailed, actionable feedback on their entry.
  • Additional prizes for the Gold winner are:
    • A £500 Vigo voucher
    • A Sandford Orchards winner limited edition cider
    • A visit to the winner’s site by our cider makers to offer practical help and advice about set up.
  • Founded in 2002, independent, family-owned Sandford Orchards is based in Mid Devon in the oldest working cider mill in the UK. They press and ferment whole juice from the finest locally grown bittersweet apples and age it to perfection to create beautifully balanced and naturally refreshing cider.
  • Sandford Orchards’ range of ciders includes session ciders and a selection of flavoured ciders and recently launched new vintage ciders.
  • For further information on Sandford Orchards please visit email or follow Sandford Orchards on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


Pictured at Darts Farm (left to right):  Mark Hopper, Simon Jupp MP, Michael Dart and Barny Butterfield

East Devon MP Simon Jupp met with Sandford Orchards owner Barny Butterfield, Michael Dart from Darts Farm and Mark Hopper from the National Association of Cider Makers (NACM) at a public event held by Darts Farm on Friday 21st May 2021.

After being given a tour of Darts Farm’s new restaurant and cidery, The Farm Table, and learning more about the cider industry, Simon listened to concerns about cider makers’ tanks remaining largely blocked with the 2019 and 2020 harvests, which may need to be destroyed to make way for this year’s apple harvest. Worse still, was the fear that without support, decades old cider apple orchards may vanish from the countryside. The impacts of the numerous COVID lockdowns, pubs, bars shut and cancelled festivals over the last 12 months, has left some apple growers and cider makers in a perilous position.

“Cider makers are asking for much needed support to allow them to recover from the impact of COVID and for the government to keep their pledge to reduce red tape for business,” said Mark Hopper NACM. “The Treasury review into how cider and other alcoholic beverages are taxed is an opportunity to provide much needed support for our industry, but cider makers are concerned about more complexity and added cost.”

Barny Butterfield said: “This year has tested so many businesses like ours, our loss has also been felt across the industry, with apple growers and pubs feeling the hurt even more keenly than ourselves. We are grateful to have survived the year, the next few years as the industry rebuilds will be critical and we need sympathetic support from our government to survive in the long term.”

“This part of Devon has an unrivalled history in cider making and folklore,” said Michael Dart, Director of Darts Farm. “We’re proud to support independent producers and during the pandemic we launched ‘Save our Cidermakers’, which helped to engage the public with the challenges faced by these producers. But there is so much more that is needed. Recently, we hosted our Franklin’s night feast where we enjoyed an evening celebrating cider’s rich history in our county, as well as the importance of cider to our identity and our future. We call on our government to protect this unique Devonshire industry for all of us.”

Barny Butterfield said: “Cider making depends on locally grown apples, but these orchards take the best part of a decade to reach full crop and can’t just be turned on and off to suit demand. After a very difficult year, we urgently need support to ensure that capacity is opened up and cider apple growers are able to sell their 2021 crop this autumn.

”Speaking after the visit, Simon Jupp said: “It’s great to see a prominent Devon business continue to be optimistic after such a challenging year. Cider duty was once again frozen in this year’s Budget to help support the hospitality sector and the wider supply chain. I will continue to support cider makers in East Devon and NACM to help champion and promote a level playing field for the industry.”

Sandford Orchards 
Founded in 2002 to top-up a farm labourer’s wage, Sandford Orchards now occupies the oldest working cider mill in the UK and has been responsible for a revival in traditional and modern orchards employing 30. It is a vocal supporter of the wider cider industry.

Darts Farm 
Over the past 25 years Darts Farm has been continually evolving to become one of the most exciting shopping experiences in the South West. Darts Farm remains a family business run by the Dart brothers; the retail looked after by Michael and James and the farm headed up by Paul. The business is, at its core, still a working farm, and sells all of its home-grown produce directly through the farm shop.

  • Darts Farm was named ‘Best South West Farm Shop’ in the Taste of the West Awards 2018 and was crowned the Winner of the ‘Best Farm Shop’ at the Food Reader Awards in 2020.
  • With over 17,000 visitors a week, Darts Farm prides itself on its exceptional customer experience and the warm, friendly atmosphere around the store, enhanced by the Dart brothers’ hands on management, family involvement and their passionate members of staff.
  • With Ruby Red Devon cattle grazing in the fields, Paul Dart and his team harvest a wonderful selection of fresh fruit and vegetables daily, which are sold in the food hall and used by the restaurant in their delicious seasonal dishes.
  • Darts Farm can be found overlooking the beautiful Clyst Valley in the picturesque town of Topsham, near Clyst St George, on the outskirts of Exeter in Devon (EX3 0QH)