Our story …
We are Julie and Steve Hasell, producers of traditional farmhouse draft cider. Back in 1984 we moved to Ridgeway Farm in the village where Steve was born, Holcombe Rogus. Steve’s parents have also had a farm in the village since the 1950’s. Our family and farm has seen quite a few changes and developments in the past thirty years – it’s been a great place to bring up our daughters Emily, Mabel and Rosina. They may have moved to London but still get roped into helping with the farm and cider business whenever possible.
Over a hundred years ago Holcombe Rogus was teeming with apple orchards – we are reviving a local tradition. A few of the old orchards still survive, including ours which still yields a diverse assortment of old bittersweet and bittersharp apple varieties.
When our new cider orchards were starting to reach maturity Julie decided it was time for a change from her career as a school teacher. Keen for a new challenge and eager to be more involved in the farm meant the idea of producing and marketing cider was soon to become a reality. An ancient, but broken, cider press from Julie’s parent’s farm was first mended and then put to the test. The results were encouraging. Every year we have learnt a little more about the craft of cider making – culminating in receiving the gold award at The Royal Bath and West Cider Championships in 2015 and a Taste of the West Silver Award for our dry cider in 2016.
Ridgeway Cider was established last year in 2014 by Julie and Steve Hasell. For many years the Hasell family have pressed and enjoyed cider, sharing it with family and friends, but decided to make some extra barrels in 2013 to sell locally through Farmers’ Markets. Once we’d met all the necessary regulations we had a Cider Launch in the Cider Barn last September for local enthusiasts to come and try our farmhouse draft ciders. We intend to hold more events when you’ll be able to come to the farm and sample our latest ciders.
Crafting farmhouse draft cider has allowed us to make the most of the three apple orchards on the farm. Bull field orchard is over fifty years old and has some interesting old varieties of cider apple. If you’re a cider apple expert please get in touch and help us identify one, or two of our unknown apple trees. In the past the apples from this orchard were picked and sold to Whiteways Cider in Cullompton as many local farmers used to do in the past. There are two other orchards also, one planted fifteen years ago and the other ten years ago, both now yielding bountiful crops of cider apples during good years. Our aim is to make quality farmhouse draft ciders using traditional methods. We intend to keep our cider production relatively small because it has to fit in with the rest of our farming commitments. The focus is on quality rather than quantity.