RACHEL Mead, editor of Somerset Life, chats to Harry and Toby Fry, father and son of Harry’s Cider in Long Sutton.


"If we’re going to start at the very beginning of Harry’s cider then we’d need to turn the clock back to 1978, back to the time when my father, Bill planted the cider apple orchard here. From the very beginning he was in a 25-year contract with a large commercial cider maker and it would have taken him a good seven years to break even on the initial investment.

"He was dairy farming alongside arable crops, beef and a flock of sheep; it was a mixed enterprise and very typical of a West Country farm of that time. In 2003, the apple contract had come to an end, although he was able to continue selling on an annual basis, so I said, “Come on Dad, we’ve got to make some cider!” and he replied, ”I think you better carry on son, I’m too old for this!” and so that’s when I set off on a week’s cider making course, learning all the principles and practices of cider making.

"After the course, I bought a small press (and I mean a small press!), harvested some apples, and Toby and I set to making 1500 litres. And that was all we made that year, we had to leave it to mature until the following spring and do you know what? It tasted pretty rough! So, over the next couple of years I did more research, listened to my peers and studied my cider ‘bible’ again.

"In our orchard we have 7 varieties and so we chose 3 or 4 local apples, had many a night of trials in our kitchen where we tried blending different ciders together and then gradually, we realised that we were getting better! We had developed a really good blend of apples to create a fantastic quality farmhouse cider.

"At this point, Ali was part of the scene and through her encouragement, and that of our friends, we decided to get our cider into a bottle; seeing the first run of 3000 bottles of ‘Harry’s Cider’ in 2011. We bottled it in August and by the end of January we’d sold it all, and we all thought, ‘we’ve got to make more of this!’ so we jointly formed Harry’s Cider Company in 2012. We started to make some single varietal ciders, and through trial and error we recognised how popular one of our varieties was, which was the Dabinett, and this has become one of our most successful ciders to date.

"We’ve had some incredible highs along the way, winning awards such as the People’s Choice Award, the Arthur Davies Cup for Taste and Presentation and then in 2018 we won the title of Supreme Champion, at The British Cider Championships at The Royal Bath & West Show - what a great day that was! One of the judges came up to me afterwards and asked me what apples I used for that cider but I didn’t tell him because I knew he was a competitor cider maker!

"Our business was growing 20% year on year, and then, Covid hit. Sales slumped as we couldn’t sell to the pubs anymore. We suddenly had to pivot, and one of the new sales avenues to result was a collaboration between ourselves and Barber’s Cheesemakers. Toby initiated an Insta-live evening opportunity to pair our cider with local cheeses for online Cheese & Cider tasting sessions. We also opened the farm gate 6 days per week, and now as life has thankfully moved on, we run regular events and even ship our Somerset ciders to the Caribbean, Japan, and parts of Europe. We’ve got a great team here, without them we wouldn’t be where we are today and I look forward to welcoming more people to come and sit in our orchard and enjoy a glass of Harry’s Cider, after all, Somerset is cider’s soul and spiritual home."

South West Farmer: Toby and Harry Fry in the orchard Photo: Georgie Woodhead PhotographyToby and Harry Fry in the orchard Photo: Georgie Woodhead Photography


‘"fter I left college I was working on a dairy farm in Gloucester when Dad said to me, “This cider business is getting some traction, how about you find some orcharding work?!” So, I spent 2 years orcharding in Somerset, I was pruning, learning about the trees and everything in-between, before I joined the business taking care of all the production side of things.

"I oversee the pressing, the fermentation process, maturation, and of course I always get involved in the tasting. We’ve got a good team here and we all love to welcome visitors to the farm. We’re lucky where we live and work as we have footpaths which follow along the River Parrett to Langport and Somerton so lots of walkers come in to Harry’s Cider for some refreshment. I like working with Dad, he’s always there to talk to.

"There are many challenges in the cider making industry but he’s my sounding board and I hope one day I’ll be able to pass the tradition of cider-making on to the next generation. One of Dad’s first blends was the ‘scrummage’ and it’s a lovely drop, I love nothing more than seeing our products being served in a pub, seeing people enjoy our cider first hand is a really special moment."

Between you and me…

Harry on Toby: Toby has a spoonful of our cider vinegar every morning for its health benefits.

Toby on Harry: Dad’s a bit of a humbug and he always starts pruning on Christmas Day.

Company Info: Established 2012, Harry’s Cider, Littlefield Lane, Long Sutton, Langport, TA10 9NS

Opening Times: Monday – Friday 10-5, Saturday 10-4