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The Oldfields Story

Oldfields Cider is produced by us, the Thompson family, on our 250-acre farm Oldfields, nestled in the heart of the Teme Valley, Worcestershire. 

 

We took Oldfields Farm on in 1960, when it was a hilly, scrub-filled smallholding that one supportive neighbour at the time said would ‘never make a farm’. But Jim, the father of current custodian Geoff, was undeterred and moved his family in, along with a creaking ancient cider press and apple scratter he’d not long bought from an old boy in Cowsden. 

 

While we were unable to do anything about the hills, over the next few decades those scrubby Broom-filled banks were transformed into a thriving verdant farm and put to good use. As was that fateful apple press. 

 

Every year since 1960 we have made cider. For many years this was done with Jim’s creaking apple press, extracting juice a bucket full at a time into old whiskey barrels, for neighbours, friends and us to enjoy. Our cider was a sought-after commodity on village bonfire nights and at other local celebrations. And it came under particular demand during the busy harvest seasons at Oldfields, when teams of burly workers would slake their thirsts after a day of hauling bales or shearing sheep and particularly throughout the hop harvest. That’s right, for many years the fuel driving the beer industry was cider! You’re welcome, brewers.

 

But charming as it may be, this method of production didn’t keep up with demand and in 2013 our fine old press took a well-deserved retirement and we began producing Oldfields Cider commercially. 

 

Today, the farm has all new state-of-the-art cider pressing and packing facilities, including a whopping Voran belt press that whilst decidedly less characterful, does a far more thorough and time-efficient job.

Jim and Geoff Thompson, pressing cider apples at Oldfields Farm
Oldfields Farm apple orchards - new trees planted showing growth
Oldfields Farm apple orchards - Digby Thompson checking cider apples ahead of harvest
Oldfields Cider apple pressing - Digby Thompson checking quality of cider apple juice
The Thompson family, Oldfields Cider

The Oldfields Approach

The Oldfields' approach to farming, cider making and life in general, can be boiled down to this: whatever you’re doing, put in the graft and do it right. For nearly 40 years we grew hops, a fickle crop that requires an inordinate degree of attention to detail. They’re prone to disease and pests, incredibly vulnerable to drought and in the space of a week can go from perfectly ripe to commercially unviable. You need to be amongst your hops continuously through the summertime assessing their needs and reacting accordingly. It’s a huge burden that leaves little time for anything else but the skills we developed during our tenure as hop farmers put us in good stead for the rest of our farming life. The instinctual recognition of the first signs of hop wilt is the same that alerts us to the first signs of sickness in a ewe or an off-flavour in a batch of cider (which is very rare, of course!). You don’t learn these skills overnight, they come from years of dedication.

 

‘Put in the graft and do it right.’ It’s why we hand prune our bajillion apple trees. It’s why we’ve planted and renewed almost a mile of native hedgerows around the farm. It’s why we don’t use concentrates in our cider (our apples testify to our hard work). And it’s why we took the decision to do every part of the cider-making process, from planting the trees to packing the bottles, in-house. That way we can cast our meticulous eye for detail across all aspects of our products, resulting in the perfect cider! And so we feel it fair to say that Oldfields Cider is crafted by good local folk.

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