Despite his surname, Keith Orchard didn't gravitate towards the making of cider and perry until he purchased a 200 year old farm in the picturesque Wye Valley. The property had lain abandoned for over 10 years, but hidden in the over-grown orchard was a treasure trove of cider apple and perry pear trees that seemed perfect for the production of Keith's chosen tipple.
Many of the varieties would remain a mystery until Keith immersed himself in the English cider making tradition, befriending various knowledgeable aficionados, to help rekindle one of the old methods of the farm once more.
Keith considers a good cider or perry to be comparable to a fine wine, and should be drank with a meal or as a refreshing drink on its own. Moreover, he also thinks that perry should be promoted as the county drink of Gloucestershire.
In March 2005 whilst clearing an old barn to start renovation works, an old 45 gallon metal drum left buried under artifacts turned out to be full of cider! The barrel had a sealed plastic lining, the contents were fine and still drinkable, with an abv of 7.8%. Having made enquiries it was believe the barrel was at least 40 years old. (See how the local press covered the story here).
Perry and cider are both fairly strong in comparison to commercially available beers and lagers, and few come in naturally under 5.6% strength by volume.
Coincidentally, Keith found one of the old popular cider apple varieties was the Backwell Red, named after the village he grew up in. Needless to say, this variety was one Keith felt drawn to and which he planted at Yewgreen Farm.
In late 2011 Keith sold the Farm and relocated within the village of Brockweir, and in 2012 began making cider and perry on a smaller scale, pressing fruit, fermenting the juice in stainless steel tanks for a clean flavour, and keeping the process as natural as possible.
In 2014 we invested in new milling and pressing equipment, not as grand or fast as when at Yewgreen Farm, but flexible and with green environmental properties. We now have two new hydro-presses which use water pressure to squeeze the apple and pear mulch to extract the juice, the water is recycled after every pressing sequence. A new wash and mill have also been installed, all the equipment that uses electricity draws its power from our solar panels, and keeping the process as natural as possible.