Embracing the philosophy that quality cider starts in the orchard, we’ve held our annual apple growers day at our farm in Somerset.
Twenty apple growers from across the West Country attended this year’s event, that offered a chance to see behind the scenes, learn more about our ethos and drive for quality, and share experiences with other growers.
This year the day included a tour of our own Somerset orchards, guided by Chris Muntz-Torres, Thatchers Orchard Manager; a review of the last twelve months including two new cider launches from the perspective of Chief Cider Maker Richard Johnson; and an informative presentation by Head of Marketing, Philip McTeer, on the long term trends in the cider market, how the pandemic impacted performance, and how Thatchers has delivered market leading growth across the portfolio, introducing two new products, Thatchers Cloudy Lemon, and Thatchers Zero.
Fourth generation cider maker, Martin Thatcher was also on hand to chat to the growers and thank them for playing such an important part in Thatchers cider making.
Martin comments, “Some of our growers have worked with us for many years, others are much newer, but they all have one thing in common, and that’s taking great care of their apples and meeting our expectations of quality. Their commitment plays a huge part in Thatchers success.”
Of particular interest to the growers this year was seeing how we are continuing to invest in the development of our orchards, with trials of new varieties of apples, and growing methods including root stocks and trellising. New planting of culinary (dessert) apples is currently being carried out, as well as classic and French bittersweet varieties, within our orchards.
Richard Johnson comments, “We have invested for many years in trialling new methods of orcharding with traditional apple varieties, and took part in the research led by the National Association of Cider Makers of 29 new varieties introduced back in 2010.
“As the cider market evolves, and tastes change, new styles of cider become popular, and as a cider maker it’s important for us to look ahead and plant the varieties of apple that create contemporary style ciders. Apple trees take up to 7 years after planting to crop effectively, so with our growers we take a long- term approach to the varieties we grow.
“Our orchard day is all about working in partnership with our growers, and how they contribute to us making the highest quality cider for a rapidly changing, competitive market.”