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A vintage harvest

Thatchers apple harvest is over for another year.

And according to Martin Thatcher, fourth generation cidermaker here at Myrtle Farm in Sandford, it’s been a vintage year for Somerset’s orchards.

“The quality of the fruit has been excellent,” says Martin. “With consistently good weather over the summer and autumn period, we’ve had premium conditions for growing fruit for our ciders. The sugar levels in the apples have been high, the aroma and flavours are just as we need them.

“Working closely with our growers, we’ve been able to harvest the quality and quantity of fruit we need to produce our ciders, all of which gets pressed, made into cider and packaged, here at Myrtle Farm.”

Thatchers places huge emphasis on growing its apples to the highest quality for its ciders, and also growing the varieties of apples that have the right characteristics for its style of ciders. The Somerset cidermaker has just launched a new range of Cider Barn limited edition ciders that spotlight individual apple varieties.

“This year we’ve used apples from some of our maturer orchards for our Cider Barn ciders,” explains cidermaker Richard Johnson. “These include our beautiful Redstreak apple, Spartan, and also Morgan Sweet and Grenadier. It’s fascinating to be able showcase one or two varieties of apple in one cider, and it enables the different aromas and flavours of each apple to shine through.”

This year we have planted around 10,000 new apple trees.

“Not only do these orchards provide a stunning backdrop to our surroundings, and produce the apples we need for our ciders, we make sure nothing goes to waste,” continues Richard. “When we shape the trees throughout the year, the prunings are sent to our biomass boiler to produce energy that we use here at Myrtle Farm. And the pomace, that’s all the bits of the fruit, such as skin and stalks, that remain after the apples are pressed, gets used in anaerobic digestion also for energy production.”

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