Meet the makers behind
Bere Cider Company
Cider making can be traced back through the family four generations and cider has been made at the current premises since 1988. What was originally a hobby, made for friends and family has grown into a small cottage business where a fairly rapid growth has been seen over the last few years and the business now produces around 1500 gallons per year.
Jim is a lifelong farmer, from a long line of farmers, originally a dairy farmer but what with quotas brought in by Maggie Thatcher and the supermarkets driving down the price of a pint of milk (don’t get him going) he replaced his dairy herd with a suckler herd, some 15 years ago, which is still on the farm today, along with some sheep, pigs and chickens. On meeting his wife, Mary, Jim was roped into helping his in laws make their cider, which they had produced to aid sleep and give away to family and friends. So Jim has been making cider using traditional methods for around 40 years.
Chris is by day an insurance broker, but come night times and weekends, he dons his apron, boiler suit and wellies and becomes a cider maker. Chris is married to Jim’s daughter, Rose, and in much the same way as Jims introduction to cider making, he too was persuaded to help in the family cider making, albeit, mainly the apple picking side of it to start with before he was trusted with the pressing side, or more like the lifting and carrying of the heavy bags of apples. Chris likes to think that in recent years he has bought some science to what was a very agricultural process, which has improved the quality of the product.
Well Mary doesn’t just clear up behind Jim (although she does that a lot), run the accounts, chief buyer and administrator, she is also a major part of the cider making process and it was Mary’s side of the family that has the cider making pedigree. Mary has responsibility for fruit quality control ie she ensures that only the best fruit goes into the mill, so that the juice produced is of a very high standard. Mary is also the best apple picker and is keen to get on her hands and knees collecting apples by hand and claims to be more efficient than the mechanical apple picking machine we have (see definition of Luddite).
Rose is Chris’ wife and the daughter of Mary and Jim and has to put up with Chris’ hobby that has slightly got out of hand. Rose was brought up on the farm and is not scared of getting her hands (or wellies) dirty. She is called upon most weekends during the harvesting months to assist where needed and is often required to help with apple harvesting, pressing and serving in the shop and is an integral part of the “hobby”
Children are the future and that is most definitely true at the Bere Cider Company, where the owners are fully aware that it is no longer correct to send children up chimneys, it is perfectly acceptable to have them helping with the collection and pressing of apples and this is how the children/grand children of Jim, Mary, Chris and Rose spend their Autumn weekends.
As our cider making process is still traditional and therefore very manual, it would not be possible without the help of our regular helpers, Phillip, Ayshea, Flyer, Tom, Pete and David and all the other occasional volunteers that turn up and lend a hand.