Our Blog

Meet The Cider Makers

Meet The Cider Makers 29-07-2020

Meet The Cider Makers

We’re always talking about our ciders and the apples that go into them but we seldom shine a light onto the people who make it all happen. In theory cider making sounds simple, but getting it right takes a lot more knowledge, patience, trial and error than you may appreciate. At Sandford Orchards we’re really proud to have not one, but three cider makers whose expertise, creativity and pure love of cider drives them to make sure our ciders are always consistently delicious. More than that though, their desire to keep learning and master their craft means that each harvest we’re able to produce some really exciting small batch ciders that push the boundaries of modern cider making further each time. Read on to meet our makers…

Andy May

Name? Andy May

Job title? Head Cider Maker* (Unofficially! Just what Barny and everyone refers to me as!)

Years at SO? Four years

What does an average day at work involve?
An average day for me is usually blending ciders ready for packaging, i’ll do up to three blends on busy days! The rest of the time I’m researching and developing new and current ciders, helping out in the bottling hall and making sure our vats of cider are maturing happily.

What do you love most about Devon cider?
What I love about Devon cider is the diversity of styles and flavours of cider that are made in the county. There are so many cider varieties that originate from Devon, many of which are only grown in great quantity here. Coupled with ideal apple growing conditions, Devon ciders really have a unique identity and character.

What was the first cider you tried that made you become a cider lover?
The cider that made me become a cider lover was Heron Valley. I was on a camping holiday in Dartmouth and we had a glass flagon of their dry farmhouse cider. I can remember it so distinctly, so full of flavour, tannic and funky, although can’t say I actually enjoyed it at the time! But it completely opened my eyes to what some might call ‘real cider’, compared to the Strongbows and Magners that I was used to! I get very nostalgic of that moment every time I taste a cider remotely similar.

Best / worst thing about working at SO?
Not to be too smug but I guess the best thing about working here is getting paid to taste cider everyday! The worst bit is hoping to get simple answers to simple questions out of Barny!

Favourite cider?
My favourite cider depends on the occasion; pints in the pub I’d go for Devon Dry, but if I want something to take my time over it’s our Tremlett’s Bitter for me.

Dave Rowe

Name? Dave Rowe

Job title? Cider Maker

Years at SO? 1.5 years

What does an average day at work involve?
An average day for me at The Cider Works will involve a variety of tasks including taking care of the cider stock that we use as the basis for all of our blends, some laboratory and analysis work to ensure that everything we produce is behaving as it should be and also blending the ciders to create the final products ready for packaging.

What do you love most about Devon cider?
The thing that I love most about Devon Cider is the heritage and tradition that come along  with it, we are spoiled for choice with the amount of traditional varieties of cider apples that are grown in our county and that allows us to produce great ciders that really reflect the best qualities of these fruits! There has long been an unspoken inter county bragging match over who has the best cider apples and therefore the best cider, we all know that it is Devon Cider sitting atop that tree and we enjoy doing our bit to keep it that way!

What was the first cider you tried that made you become a cider lover?
As much as I hate to say it, it was actually a Cornish Cider that started my adventure into the world of Cider! Having had previously stuck to the more mainstream commercial offerings I simply could not believe the vast variety of flavour profiles that were being produced by some smaller producers that were more purposeful in their approach to fruit selection, production techniques and the finished styles that they were offering. The fact that despite having predominantly one main ingredient something could be smoky, spicy, citrussy, sharp, sweet or anything in between blew my mind, I wanted to taste as many different ciders as i could…and the adventure began!

Best / worst thing about working at SO?
The best thing about working at Sandford orchards is being paid to come to work every day and do what you love! Being a part of a team of people that are so passionate about what we do is certainly an added bonus!! The worst thing about working at Sandford Orchards would have to be the 4.30 AM starts during the apple pressing season!!

Favourite cider?
Devon Red! People often ask if it’s like working in a sweet shop when working with cider all day and if i ever get sick of it, the answer to that question is no…NEVER!

Barny Butterfield

Name? Barny Butterfield

Job title? Founder

Years at SO? All of them (since 2002 – my first fermenting mistakes began in 1993)

What does an average day at work involve?
A balance between taking the credit and apportioning blame.

What do you love most about Devon cider?
Depth, clarity and glorious tannin.

What was the first cider you tried that made you become a cider lover?
Grays Devon Cider. (It was actually woodpecker straight from the bottle sneakily quaffed in the veg patch) But Grays was the cider that made me realise just how wonderful real cider can be.

Best / worst thing about working at SO?
Because this is an obsession and a passion as well as my livelihood, I guess the best thing is that I never feel that I’m ‘at work’ – the flip side as with many other farmers I know – I’m also never ‘not at work’.

Favourite cider?
Easy – Devon Red. The cider that had been the missing piece. Easy and accessible but rich with fruit and natural tannin with a crisp and refreshing finish.

 

 

 

8 comments on “Meet The Cider Makers

  1. Kay on

    Hi. Do you do viewings can people come and have a look at your system the machinery extra… I currently work in a small cider place in Somerset and find the system very interesting

    Reply
  2. Colin Sturrock on

    We are due to spend a week in a cottage just outside Crediton and wondered if you are open for tours and pizza? Also we have a well behaved Cockapoo with us so wondered about allowing dogs too? We are staying from Friday 21st to Friday 28th of this month.

    Reply
    • doynie on

      We are open for takeaway pizza (and cider obviously!) on Friday and Saturday, just ring and place your order in advance. Tours are currently not taking place due to Covid unfortunately.

      Reply
  3. Lee Newman on

    Hi Barny,
    I have been interested in Cider for quite a few years now.
    I am originally from Swindon Wiltshire where I worked for a small cider producer called Circle cider. Whilst there I did everything from harvesting the apples to selling the Cider, and picked up a fair amount of knowledge of which I greatly enjoyed.
    I also own a small mill and cider press and have been making my own cider.
    I was just wondering if you have any work at Sandford orchards I am willing to do anything.
    I currently live in Teignmouth Devon

    Reply
    • doynie on

      Hi Lee,

      thanks so much for getting in contact. Please keep making cider and keep that interest alive! Right now I’m afraid to say that times are tough. With the closing of pubs for so long, traditional cider companies like ours lost a great deal of sales, as a result we will be pressing and making much less than an ordinary year. Very sorry but we have no work we can offer. But please do keep in touch, we love working with people who are genuinely passionate about cider – and it’s obvious that you have the bug!

      Barny

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *