Woodthorpe Hall is one of only two artisan cider makers we are aware of in our area, based at the end of a country lane in Holmesfield, near Dronfield.
The Hall is the home of Dick Shepley and his family, he is the man behind the Owd Barker strong Farmhouse Cider, the cider is made from the apple juices produced at his annual apple pressing day where friends, family, business contacts and a few CAMRA members all turn up and volunteer for the day in his garden!
Many of the apples used are windfall from trees in the area, however this stock sometimes supplemented with apples bought in from Orchards in South West England. Owd Barker is certainly not a single variety cider – all the different apples are chucked in together!
The process on the day involves carting apples from trailers and sacks on the driveway in wheelbarrows to the pressing area where they are washed by hand before being pulped and mashed using a series of Heath Robinson esque motorised machinery with the results shovelled into buckets ready to be pressed.
The mashed apples are squashed into juice on the old fashioned apple press, with the juice poured into plastic water bottles (of the office mineral water cooler style) to be transported to the fermentation tanks.
It isn’t all work of course, there is a lunch break that involves repairing to a pub in the village for food and an afternoon tea break happens with coffee and home made cakes then after the days pressing is complete a few social drinks are enjoyed with a few tubs of last years cider laid on for workers!
A small group of Sheffield & Dronfield CAMRA members will be going to Woodthorpe Hall to help with the apple pressing on Saturday 3rd October, email firstname.lastname@example.org if you fancy joining us.