We’re all about family and the idyllic Dorset
Back in 2006, Oliver and Penny Strong settled in a wildly beautiful cider orchard as a place to create their renowned metal sculptures in one of our barns and to harvest their apples in the autumn.
Initially the cider apple orchard was planted for and had a long standing apple contract with Gaymers in Shepton Mallet which we soon ceased as we began using more and more of the apples for our own ciders and products. Dorset Nectar cider was born during the banking recession of 2008 as the metal sculpture exhibits and shows fell through; the push to produce beautifully hand crafted products from the organic apples became the focus. Soon sons and daughters wholeheartedly took on the task of learning about running an orchard and heritage cidermaking, cider vinegar, apple syrup, apple juice production from the apples and craft ale brewing. including bee keeping, orchard care and even organic free range chicken egg farming and pig keeping.
Since then 2006 and thanks to the wholehearted effort of all the family and friends, Dorset Nectar Cider has gone from strength to strength, winning many local and prestigious accolades year on year, crafting new cider blends and always trying something new. Most recently with the our craft ales brewed by Oliver and Christian under the name of Windward Brewery and our brand new Truly Scrumptious Apple Syrup.
2006;Our first cider apple harvest, Oliver harvests apples by night and continues with Penny sculpting metal sculptures by day whilst she holds the fort. Took part in Dorset Art Weeks with Sculptures in the orchard for the first time whilst living in Spetisbury near Blandford forumn
2007; Bee hives are introduced with the help of Beekeeper Peter Carris and a bumper year of 300 tonnes is harvested on the low nitrogen Strong orchards. The family move to Higher Halstock Leigh near Yeovil.
2008; As the Sculpture business takes a big hit after coming away from big shows and exhibitions like Hampton Court Flower and Garden show and Chelsea Show and others with little sales during the banking Recession. Oliver and Penny enquire about apple pressing locally. During the harvest period September to December Oliver and family takes a trailer load of apples for pressing at our friends Five Penny Farm in Wooton Fitzpaine on their large rack and cloth press. 1000Litres of cider is pressed and fermented. Cloudy apple juice was pressed, bottled and made ready for shops. We move onto the orchard on the 17th of October. The large poly tunnel is build as a tree nursery and to keep vinegar in. Solar array and small wind generator is put in place.
2009; The First Cider finishes its fermentation and is blended and sold under the brand Dorset Nectar in long neck 500ml bottles and The Orchards are first certified as Organic with the Soil Association. One hundred and 50 laying hens are introduced to the orchards in mobile pens; the free range, organic eggs are sold locally and win awards over the next number of years at the Melplash Show. Our Porters Perfection Single variety wins at Bath & West Show home of the British Championships. Rare breed Kune Kune pigs are introduced and Poll Dorset sheep run the orchards. Oliver and eldest son Dante build our version of the American style horizontal Good Nature "Squeeze box/Accordian press" with twin hydraulic rams. We first enter and win at the Powerstock Cider festival. Cider is made available in Draft Bibs for the first time. Penny runs our first Fair/festival stall.
2010; Organic Apple Cider vinegar is first released after aging and bottling. More cider is pressed and fermented as the orchard experiences the biannual "On" year. Two hundred more hens are introduced in mobile pens and the cider range gets a new look and new blends as we offer our Dry vintage, Medium organic in gold and Sweet ciders in purple in new look 500ml bottles. The long standing contract to sell apples to Gaymers of Shepton Mallet is cut, apples are sold to local cider makers such as Cider by Rosie and Lulworth Skipper cider. The apple press is reinforced and rebuilt. Ciders receive awards at the Melpash Show and Powerstock Show and Taste of the West awards.
2011; A number of fox, badger attacks and a theft of 150 hens are stolen and then found dead. Awards are won for the eggs and the ciders at the Melplash Show, Taste of the West. The "off" year for organic orchards returns filling our tanks and along a few new additions. The squeeze box press is cut apart and resurrected as the "Thunderbird" a traditional styled modern rack and cloth vertical apple press powered by Two 58 tonne hydraulic rams build by Dante and Oliver. Elderflower cordial is first made from foraged from hedges and the orchard. Elderflower cider is first offered but runs out quickly in 1Litre flagons. Mulled spiced cider is first offered in 1 Litre flagons. A number of fermenting vessels are sourced. An additional 300 laying hens join our flock as we continue to offer free range, organic eggs. Apple & Elderflower juice is first introduced.
2012; The bumper crop allows for 40 new cider tanks to be filled. Additional apples sold to new local cider makers like Dorset Sunshine cider and others like 5 Penny Farm. New Gloucester Old spot pigs join us and enjoy the apple pomace. The new workshop building is completed. Elderflower Cider and Passion Fruit Cider is first offered in 50Litre kegs to the Stables group opening their first location Bridport. 200 young apple trees are planted. 4 Geese join the family. Dabinet Single Variety cider is first introduced. The poly tunnel is rebuild after being destroyed in a storm.
2013; The Tasting Room is first completed next to the Workshop for on-site cider and apple juice sales. We first produce carbonated ciders as we change and improve our branding and add med-dry Top O the Hill, the legendary Wild Cat, Elderflower and Hunny Bubble sparkling ciders to our range. A second order of 50L kegs are received. The Poll Dorset sheep flock is renewed. All the apples from the orchards are used solely for Dorset Nectar Cider blends.
2014; A number more tanks are sourced for the large apple harvest. Our craft ciders win at Camra festivals and the British Cider Championships. First Cider exported to the Netherlands. A harsh winter and Veroa destroys the bee hives. Dante joins the business fulltime. Apples also sourced from Twinways orchard
2015; A number of 5.5K Litre tanks are sourced. Our Old Harry Rocks Vintage Dry wins the British Champion Organic Cider Cup closely followed by our Top O the Hill and Medium Organic The Geese and chickens are ravaged by foxes and the Goose flock begins again. More Cider exported to the Netherlands. Our Live enzyme Apple cider vinegar is rebranded. Mark Rogers from Rogers Apiary first keeps some of his hives here on the orchard. The Hydraulic press is strengthened. Amber helps run events and bars under Dorset Nectar in Devon and Somerset. Apples sourced from Twinways orchard in Melplash. Our First Annual; Charity Wassail event takes place in January. Gourmet Apple Cider vinegar is introduced. Jurassic Skyline cider is first made in partnership with the Jurassic Skyline Tower and Sea Life Centre in Weymouth. First Early Windsor solely dessert apple cider is produced.
2016; Over the next few years a number of 20,000 litre fermenting vessels join us as the craft ciders grow in popularity. Top O the Hill our medium Dry sparkling cider wins the British Champion Organic Cider Cup closely followed by our Wild Cat and Old Harry Rocks. First export of Cider to Finland. 1 Litre flagons are reintroduced briefly. Cider Farm Tour and Tasting are first offered. The poly tunnel is rebuilt once again after it is torn and ripped apart by a series of storms. Ryan joins the business full time after completing university. Apples also sourced from Twinways orchard. First time bottling for other local cider producer friends. New website is launched. We start our Apples for Apple juice swap in the pressing season as people bring us their surplus garden or allotment apples from the local area in exchange for apple juice bottles.
2017; Old Harry Rocks wins the British Champion Organic Cider Cup. First export of Cider to Estonia. Laying hen flock eases. Foxy Ginger is first offered and is loved immediately. 3 Litre pouches are offered over the spring and summer. 30Litre kegs are first offered and a few more tanks made ready for harvest. Sir Humphrey our Gosling is introduced to Dame Maggie-Smith our new Goose. Apples sourced from Dorset Star orchard in Chalmington and Twinways Orchard.
2018; Grab Life by the Damsons sparkling plum cider is introduced with popular feedback. Cider farm tour and Tastings becoming more popular. Another fermenting vessel joins the tank rooms. Work is completed on the new 30 tonne apple bay and pressing/ washing system including German Belt press capable of pressing up to 6 tonnes per hour and a purpose built building to house it. Apples sourced from Dorset Star orchard and Twinways orchard. Building begins late in the season on the new Cider barns. Apples pressed for the first time for other producers.
2019; Excellent turnout to our annual Charity Wassail afternoon/evening in January. Cider barns completed and new equipment begins arriving. The new yard is laid. Apples sourced from Coombe Down orchard nr Beaminster. Pressing system improved on, a few new vessels ready to fill with the bumper "On" year.
2020; The year begins with high expectations and plans as always. Covid 19 knocks the industry dramatically as almost all draft cider ceases. Exciting new Big Berry raspberry cider is made in partnership with the West Dorset Leisure Holidays parks. New website is launched. Focus shifts to a number more online marketplaces and stores. Local free Delivery within 10Miles Offer starts. Lay-by for tractor-trailer apple pulp collection is improved. Scrumptious Apple Syrup is launched..... To be continued