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)


Devon based Sandford Orchards is launching three of its session ciders in a new canned format along with its full range of flavoured ciders, ready for the summer season. Devon Dry, Devon Mist and Rib Tickler will be available in cans from the end of May with Fanny’s Bramble, Old Blossom, Berry Lane and Cider Ginger to follow in June. These new canned ciders will be available from selected retail outlets including Sandford Orchards’ shop, plus hospitality venues and online from

Barny Butterfield, Chief Cidermaker at Sandford Orchards comments: “As part of a recent £1.2m investment in our business we installed a brand new canning line to meet the growing demands for more canned drinks. We recently launched our most popular cider, Devon Red, in a can and the response was overwhelming. With BBQ season upon us and large outdoor gatherings now permitted, we felt that this was the ideal time to launch some of our other key ciders in a new can format. Cans are light, less fragile than bottles and eminently more portable making it the perfect format for al fresco consumption.”

Devon Dry Cider (ABV 5% 8 x 440ml, RRP £13.99) is crisp, dry and filled with mouth watering cider apple tannin leading to a long, clean, citrus finish. It is a tribute to the true West Country dry cider style.

Devon Mist (ABV 4.5%, 8 x 440ml, RRP £13.99) is unfiltered and expertly blended to create a medium, cloudy, session cider, bursting with rich autumnal fruits and a long satisfying finish.


Rib Tickler (ABV 5%, 8 x 440ml, RRP £13.99) was created with The Rugby Players Association to raise vital funds for charity. It has rich aromas of honey and baked apple, ripe and buttery on the palate, with a moreish apple skin flavour, balanced with a crisp, natural acidity.


Fanny’s Bramble (ABV 4%, 12 x 330ml RRP £21) is an exceptional craft cider that is a perfectly balanced and exceedingly delicious blend of fresh apple and blackberries.

Old Blossom (ABV 4%, 12 x 330ml RRP £21)  captures the essence of early summer with elderflowers adding a subtle sweetness and delicate aroma to expertly crafted Devon cider.

Berry Lane (ABV 4%, 12 x 330ml RRP £21) is satisfyingly sweet and refreshingly tart, created by adding perfectly ripe raspberries to this masterfully crafted Devon cider.

Cider Ginger (ABV 4%,12 x 330ml RRP £21) is created from fresh pressed root ginger and the finest Devon cider. It is a great food pairing for spicy dishes, and an outstanding cocktail ingredient.

Founded in 2002, independent, family-owned Sandford Orchards is based in Crediton, Mid Devon in the oldest working cider mill in the UK. The area has long been known as one of the most fertile parishes in all of Britain, both for its grazing and ability to grow apples. Crediton sits in the lee of the moors, so receives the right amount of rain and the right units of heat in summer.

Sandford Orchards takes a fresh, natural and low impact approach to producing cider. With their recent rebrand and expanded capacity, they started 2021 in a strong position to meet the needs of their fast-growing fan base as well as cider drinkers who want to trade up to something more authentic and better tasting.

Combining tradition and innovation, Sandford Orchards produces an award-winning range of core session, flavoured, vintage and fine ciders.

For further information on Sandford Orchards please visit, follow Sandford Orchards on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Breakthrough Cider Awards

Breakthrough Cider Awards

Following the relaxation of the lockdown restrictions, Barny Butterfield, Chief Cidermaker at Sandford Orchards recently presented Kingsley Ash of Thornborough Cider with the very first Breakthrough Cider Maker Award and announced the launch of the 2021/22 Awards. These remarkable awards are free to enter and offer aspiring cider makers advice, guidance and guaranteed listings in the on and off trade.

Barny 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!”

He 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 and I am thrilled 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.”

The overall winner of the inaugural awards was Thornborough cider. Barny elaborates: “The cider was sharp with a light bite and fantastic biscuity finish. Dry cider is harder to make well because sugar is so helpful at ironing out imperfections, so when dry cider is good, it’s brilliant! Kingsley Ash should feel rightly proud of his contribution to cider so far, and pretty excited about where he can take it.”

Barny adds: “Thornborough’s branding is really strong and elegant, and the business proposition behind it is sound and purposeful. We could also see plenty of opportunities to help Thornborough grow and improve and this is where the BCMA is invaluable.”

Rick Wyatt from Pang Valley and Marc Salter of Ex-press Cider both took away silver awards. Richard Yarnell from Mitchells and Butlers was one of the judges on an expert panel which included Susy Atkins, drinks writer and broadcaster, Helen Thomas, managing director of  Westons Cider and The Ciderologist, Gabe Cook.  Richard comments: “The Breakthrough Cider Maker awards is an exciting new initiative from Sandford Orchards, which seeks to support the growth of another ambitious cider maker by awarding prizes that directly impact on the winner’s ability to grow.  I was very excited and honoured to be asked to join the judging panel, the quality of the entrants shortlisted for the award was very high and finding one overall winner caused much debate and discussion among the judges.”

Barny finishes: “It was a real pleasure to be part of the judging and, as a business that wants to move cider and the perception of cider forward, we are really excited to get a chance to work with this year’s winners and start the search for next year’s winners too. 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 will grow our category, reach out to curious wine, beer and spirit drinkers and grow the love for this marvellous drink. I would like to thank everyone involved.”

The Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards were launched by Sandford Orchards at the end of 2019 in collaboration with Westons Cider, Vigo Limited, Darts Farm and The Stable. The Breakthrough Cider Maker Awards will be back again in 2022, recognising and celebrating 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 register their interest now at

The prize includes: business strategy mentoring with Barny Butterfield, founder Sandford Orchards, a retail listing at Darts Farm, Devon, on-trade listing with a The Stable restaurant, £500 to spend with equipment and consumables supplier, Vigo limited and a technical visit to Weston’s cider to quiz the cider makers.

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

CraftCon 2021

CraftCon 2021

Sustainability and diversity have been placed at the heart of CraftCon 2021 as it heads online, on 29 and 30 April.

Hosted by the Three Counties Cider & Perry Association, CraftCon is the only professional conference in the UK dedicated to the craft cider sector.

While legendary cider authority Andrew Lea will open the virtual conference taking the audience to where cider apples began, with his journey to the Tian Shan foothills of Kazakhstan, Bill Wiggin MP and Ian Liddell-Grainger MP will join the National Association of Cider Makers’ Mark Hopper and SIBA’s Barry Watts on the final afternoon on a panel exploring to explore the case for duty reform.

We are delighted that Eleanor Léger from Eden Ciders, the new president of the American Cider Association, will be joining us to speak on ice cider,” says TCCPA chair Simon Day, Once Upon A Tree. In addition, taking advantage of the virtual nature of the conference, US cider luminaries sharing their wisdom with CraftCon delegates include Ria Windcaller, MC of leading podcast CiderChat, Brian Rutzen, aka Cider Brian, and ANXO Cidery’s Sam Fitz.

Sessions over the two days will encompass sustainability in all its forms, from orchard biodiversity with a panel chaired by James Marsden, Gregg’s Pit, through to economic sustainability, with a panel featuring producers of all sizes, including Barny Butterfield, Sandford Orchards, and Polly Hilton, Find & Foster.

Cider production features strongly, with sessions including the joy of single variety ciders, with the Johnson family, Ross on Wye Cider & Perry, what makes great dry cider, chaired by James Finch, the Cider Critic, the technical challenges posed by kegging, chaired by Gabe Cook, The Ciderologist, and co-ferments and cider hybrids, with Pilton Cider’s Martin Berkeley and Once Upon A Tree’s Simon Day.

Chris Atkins, Ragged Stone Cider & Perry, organiser of the Perry Festival at the Three Counties Autumn Show, will share his passion for perry, talking delegates through the unique flavour and heritage proposition it offers while also shining a light on its future.

The pan-industry group Cider Women will take the gender debate one step further with an interactive session focusing on how all can work together “to shape the future and grow this dynamic and creative industry“. Meanwhile, Helen Anne Smith, founder of the Burum Collective, will be joined by Ren Navarro, of Beer. Diversity. North America, to focus on Improving Diversity, Inclusion and Equality.

Alongside these sessions will be opportunities for networking chats, an online trade show and we’ll be bringing tasting sessions too,” says Simon Day.

A CraftCon 2021 Tasting Box is being put together. “These products will relate to the speakers and their talks,” says Lucie Mayerová, TCCPA communications officer. “While we can’t have our popular bottle share, we want to make sure that we offer a full experience and that all enjoy the event as much as possible.”

When CraftCon started in 2019, it was a landmark moment for UK craft cider producers – finally we had an event for cidermakers, from cidermakers,” says Albert Johnson, Ross on Wye Cider & Perry Co and TCCPA secretary. “The technical and business knowledge and expertise that was shared and the connections forged was of enormous benefit to all who attended. I’m so happy we are able to have that experience again, this time online, to help bring cidermakers from all over the country – and indeed the world – together.”

All sessions will be recorded and accessible by ticket holders afterwards.

“CraftCon will help attendees become more informed, make better business decisions, and ultimately, produce better quality cider for the drinker at home,” says Albert Johnson. “I can’t wait!

The TCCPA is most grateful to the National Association of Cider Makers and CraftCon’s confirmed Gold sponsors Vigo Ltd, Lallemand and Core Equipment. Without their support, this event would not be possible.

For further information, head to    
Tickets cost £25 for members of TCCPA and £40 for non-members, which include 1-year membership.

CraftCon Sponsors



Devon based Sandford Orchards has launched a brand new collection of Vintage Ciders; a finest cask-aged cider, ‘Sandford Reserve’, a fresh oak-finished cider, ‘Apple & Oak’ and a mighty vat-aged cider named ‘The General’. This new range is available nationwide from retail outlets and RRP £32.00 for 12 x 500ml bottles.

Barny Butterfield, Chief Cidermaker at Sandford Orchards comments: “Every apple harvest has a distinct character. To use the term ‘vintage’ a cider must declare the year of harvest with the age of the cider providing a strong indication of its depth of flavour and maturity. A huge amount of effort went into creating our new vintage ciders and we are thrilled with the results. We trialled more than forty different potential winners before whittling them down to these three, each of which boasts their own unique characteristics.”

Apple & Oak – Fresh Oak-Finished Cider (ABV 6.7%)

‘Apple and Oak’, is a dry vintage cider aged in new oak barrels. It showcases youthful, ripe, bittersweet apple flavours which are complemented by hints of vanilla and toasty oak. The ideal accompaniment to a cheese ploughmans or cured meats, it’s the ‘cider nouveau’ of the collection.

Sandford Reserve – Finest Cask-Aged Cider (ABV 7.4%)

Sandford Reserve is the ‘exhibition’ cider of this new range. Using the pick of the 2019 crop and  matured in larger wine casks, Sandford Reserve drinks like a smooth, oaky, chardonnay with flavours of honey, Madeira and dried fruits. It’s the perfect partner to curry or spicy Asian food.

The General – Mighty Vat-Aged Cider (ABV 8.4%)

The General is the Imperial Stout of this vintage range. This super rich cider is bold and satisfying with the flavours of Seville orange, plum and baked apple. It is a superb complement to gamey meats or a fully-laden Sunday roast.

Founded in 2002, independent, family-owned Sandford Orchards is based in Crediton, Mid Devon in the oldest working cider mill in the UK. The area has long been known as one of the most fertile parishes in all of Britain, both for its grazing and ability to grow apples. Crediton sits in the lee of the moors, so receives the right amount of rain and the right units of heat in summer.

Sandford Orchards takes a fresh, natural and low impact approach to producing cider. With their recent rebrand and expanded capacity, they are starting 2021 in a strong position to meet the needs of their fast-growing fan base as well as cider drinkers who want to trade up to something more authentic and better tasting.

Combining tradition and innovation, Sandford Orchards produces an award-winning range of core session ciders including Devon Red, Devon Dry and Devon Mist and fruit ciders; blackberry flavoured Fanny’s Bramble, Berry Lane using perfectly ripe raspberries, Old Blossom made from delicate Elderflower and an invigorating and zingy Cider Ginger.

For further information on Sandford Orchards please visit, follow Sandford Orchards on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

*Sandford Orchards Vintage Range of cider is available in cases of 12 x 500ml bottles RRP £32.00  and can be purchased from selected retail and hospitality outlets or online at