Cider house rules in Leominster after £300k funding package

Newton Court Cider 1[2]

An award-winning craft cider producer in Herefordshire is expanding its operations and launching a new visitor centre after securing a £300,000 funding package from the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation.

Leominster-based Newton Court Cider, which forms part of organic working farm Newton Court Farm, is on track to complete the extension and refurbishment of its on-site farm shop and a 95-seater café by August this year. The new facilities will sell the farm’s own-produced cider, together with locally reared meat and other organic produce including seasonal vegetables, honey, milk, and bread.

The ambitious on-site expansion also includes the build of a 600-metre square state-of-the-art visitor centre. This experience will invite guests to take a journey through the art of cider making, learning how the farm grows and ferments its fruit to produce a wide range of award-winning sparkling bottled cider and traditional draught ciders. This includes the farm’s famous organic Elderflower cider and Bold Oak cider which are produced in collaboration with Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage.

Around seven new jobs are expected to be created as part of the expansion, including a manager, chef, head cider maker and café staff, taking the farm’s total number of employees to ten full and part-time staff. The business, which also received funding for the project through the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development Project,expects its annual turnover to more than double following the investment.

Paul Stephens, Director and Partner at Newton Court Cider, said: “The investment in our new shop, café and visitor centre represents an important milestone in the ongoing development of our farming business and is an important part of our journey to become a popular visitor attraction in the heart of the Herefordshire countryside.

“Our original farm shop was at capacity, so we’d have really struggled to grow without AMC’s investment and support. Our incredible new facilities will be open to the public before the end of the year and we hope people will join us to see where the farm’s apples are nurtured and harvested, before being transferred to the production facility where the apples are turned into cider”.

Newton Court Cider is part of a family run organic farm, which farms a mixed rotation of cattle, arable and sheep on its 155-acre estate. The business, which has 30 acres of cider apple and perry pear orchards, also has several residential properties available for let.

The deal with AMC was completed with support from local AMC Agents Ashley Lilley and Arthur Witchell at Savills.

Victoria Crisp, Regional Agriculture Manager for the South West Midlands, AMC, said: “With its unique climate and soil, Herefordshire has a long and rich farming history. This expansion will enable Newton Court Cider to diversify its offering to include a visitor education centre, whilst also significantly improving its existing infrastructure.

“Supporting ambitious land-based projects like this as they grow and innovate is part of AMC’s DNA. We are working with rural businesses right across the country, providing long-term lending to help implement more sustainable business models and operations and to pursue clean growth opportunities.”

Headquartered in Andover, AMC has worked with land-based commercial farming businesses since 1928 to support a wide range of growth and diversification initiatives, covering everything from an initial land purchase to large scale investments.