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History of the Ferme de la Sapinière

Cider making and farming have always been an integral part of our family background.

During the first part of the 20th century, cider making was a very big activity but it dramatically declined after World War II. By the 80’s, cider was only being produced for home consumption.

The Great Storm of October 1987 along with waterlogged soil and laden apple trees took its toll on the orchards of Normandy.

Following this incident, my brother and I set out to plant cider apple trees.

For this young orchard we used a new type of tree with low stems. The difference between these and the standard trees is the shape. Low-stem trees hardly have any trunk and are therefore smaller in size. They are also produced and grown using different methods.

The average number of low-stem trees cultivated per hectare is 650. Fruiting is quicker with adult yields from 8 years of age onwards. Greater care is required when pruning, known as “vertical axis pruning”, because this has an effect on yield potential.

No other farming can be carried out on this type of orchard contrary to high-stem orchards. These high-stem trees have a trunk height of 2m and have a density of 100 trees per hectare, which allows the grazing of cows under them. However the main drawback with high-stem trees is the time they take to mature and become economically viable, some 18 to 20 years.

In the 21st century, that would be a luxury.

Our farm estate currently comprises 9ha of high-stem trees of which 6ha are located by the entrance to the American Cemetery, and 8ha of low-stem trees with seedlings dating back to 1988.

Other plantations have been added at various stages prior to the year 2000.
There is also a half-hectare of pear trees which was planted in 2003. Further orchards covering 5ha were planted in 2011.

What are all these apples used for?

When the first orchard was planted in 1988, our aim was to sell the apples for industrial processing. However we very quickly realised we would not find our full expression as producers by doing this.

We were going to have to undertake the entire apple processing ourselves. This stage was reached in 1991 when we produced 1500 bottles of cider. It was during this period that we and other producers from the Bessin area and the rest of Normandy started to enrol on special courses to discover all the subtleties of this noble beverage, cidre bouché. (lit. corked cider).

Twenty years on I am still learning things and enhancing the quality of our production.

We extended our products beyond cider in 1992, producing our first AOC labelled Calvados.

Then in 1997 we had our first Pommeau de Normandie, and at the same time our first apple juice.

Today we also produce pear juice, aperitifs as well as other products.

Considered the fruit of Paradise, apples offer sheer pleasure to enthusiasts who like to indulge. They tantalise our creativeness and imagination, it’s hard to resist the temptation.

We delight in working with apples and we would love to share our passion with you when you come to visit the cider farm and sample our products.