Harry’s Cider are immensely proud to be part of the Somerset farming tradition of growing and making cider. They have been making cider on their family farm for a number of years and produce delicious sparkling and traditional ciders. Using bittersweet varieties of apples such as Harry Masters Jersey, Dabinett, Yarlington Mills and Browns Apple.
Harry’s Cider are very selective in the cider fruit they use and only pick the best apples to enable us to produce our great tasting cider. All ciders are made with 100% cider fruit.
The rise in popularity of craft cider over recent years has come at the perfect time for cider maker Harry Fry, who established the family-run cider making business Harry’s Cider just a few years ago. His focus on provenance, quality and cider made from 100% cider fruit is yielding positive results already for the young cider brand, with growth of almost 50% year-on-year in 2015.
Based in Long Sutton near Langport, agriculture is well-and-truly in Harry’s blood. Five generations of his family on both sides have farmed, all within 30 miles of where he is today – stretching across Somerset from Chard to Yeovil and up to Langport.
Having helped his father from a young age, Harry left school at 16 to work full-time on the family farm, which covered beef, dairy and arable farming. Keen to add more strings to his bow, he moved away a year later to gain further experience on farms in the South West, before spending a few years farming in New Zealand and Australia.
Harry returned to Somerset in 1980, rented some land and farmed free-range pigs as well as offering an orchard management service to local growers. This gave him the opportunity to work with the Taunton Cider Company, helping with orchard maintenance, pruning and harvesting.
He bought Littlefield Farm in Long Sutton in 1982 and started his own dairy herd, which he kept for almost 20 years. However, the falling price of milk led him to diversify and, over time, his passion for orchards and cider making increased.
Harry started by making his own cider from the apples in his father’s orchards, before fully taking over the orchards when his father retired five years ago. He says, “I went on a course that taught me the principles of cider making and, through trial and error, I quickly learnt which varieties made the best cider. I was keen to learn the craft and recorded any tips I could extract from others. I’m always listening, focusing on how to get just the right balance of flavour, length and complexity – and now I make it my way, the Harry’s way.”
Today Harry produces sparkling and traditional ciders from a range of apple varieties including Dabinett, Harry Masters Jersey and Yarlington Mills, all grown in his own orchards. As with many craft ciders, his chosen cider blend is something of a signature that has been worked on and refined over several years. He says, “It’s a natural product and every season is different, but we use a blend of varieties to produce our Harry’s Original Cider. I make single varietal ciders from the different apples in our orchards, then I’ll blend them together to produce what I think has the optimum flavour and aroma, and this forms the basis of our cider from one year to the next. We’re incredibly proud to be craft cider makers, making pure juice ciders in the heart of the Somerset ‘ciderland’. Even our single varietal Dabinett, which has a lower alcohol level, is made with 100% cider fruit.”
Harry’s Cider is a family business through and through, with Harry’s partner Alison driving the commercial side of the business, son Toby handling the marketing and assisting with orchard management, and daughters Lizzie and Jess helping with some of the many events that Harry’s Cider takes part in across the South West. Harvest time sees them out in the orchards, with Harry’s experience and instinct recognising exactly when to harvest and how to blend the fruit in order to create a fresh, appley and delicious cider.
Asked whether his passion is more about the orchards or the cider making, Harry says, “It’s everything really, from growing the trees at a young age all the way through the process. Seeing the magic of the blossom in the spring; the smell of ripe apples in the orchards; tasting the first juice from pressing; and making fantastic cider.
“When I was dairy farming, my passion was for breeding strong livestock and seeing them improve with each generation. It’s the same with cider – I try to make a better cider every year. It’s not easy but it’s about understanding the orchards and when to harvest, as well as the blending process. That’s what makes the difference between an ordinary cider and something special, which is what we’re always trying to achieve.”