Family enterprise makes new Waldershare cider works sparkle
A HUGE £700,000 investment and two-and-a-half-years building and refurbishment work have finally come to fruition with the official opening of The Cider Works.
The pub, shop, restaurant, cafe, guest house and cider-processing combo, on the site of the former High and Dry in Waldershare, was opened by the Earl of Guildford last month.
Owners Andrew and Amanda Wedl bought the pub in 2009, a year after buying a small holding in Eastry where they now have a 2,000 tree orchard.
Apples from their Green Oak Farm are pressed at The Cider Works and sold alongside food, craft and drink produce from other local farms and artisans. The venture has created six jobs since a "soft" opening at Easter.
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Dad-of-two Andrew, who previously owned the Royal Hotel in Deal and the White Cliffs in St Margaret's, said: "Some years ago we purchased the small-holding in Eastry and planted some apple trees.
"We decided to make our own cider and so needed somewhere to sell it so the High and Dry became our project. It has been a long, drawn-out project with building taking two-and-a-half-years.
"But we are here now and business has been doing very well. We really have to thank the parish council and community for so much support and John and David Bradley for helping us with the technology and information about how to grow our apples and how to go down this road.
"It has been a huge learning process with the manufacturing, finding out how it should be done and what facilities we needed."
The couple say The Cider Works was born because they wanted to take a new direction.
Andrew, 58, said: "We wanted to change our lives. We had been in hotels and decided we just wanted a different style of life."
Future plans include a garden centre of fruit trees, planting of specimen trees on site and, eventually, a museum charting apple-growing and cider-making in Kent through the years.
Andrew said: "There has been a big resurgence in cider and it has been quite difficult to get hold of all the stuff for the museum. We also want to add the garden centre so people can have the whole experience and come and buy a tree as well as their cider, crafts and local produce."
Functions can also be held on the site, which houses a £200,000 cider-making kit, with The Cider Work's first wedding already booked.