A Portadown family of apple growers is hoping for a slice of the growing local drinks market with its own range of craft ciders.
Long Meadow Cider, produced by father and son team Pat and Peter McKeever on the McKeever family farm, Loughgall Road, is the result of a diversification programme. This has led to the introduction of a new bottled range of medium and sweet cider.
The McKeever family, who have been growing apples for more than 50 years, are hoping that the move will not only help sustain the existing apple growing business but will lead to further job creation as demand increases for its newly introduced range of ciders.
“We are absolutely delighted with how our ciders have been received,” said company director, Pat. “We had a soft launch just before Christmas when we introduced the new Long Meadow Medium and Sweet Ciders to family and friends. We have since followed that up with listings being obtained in bars, restaurants, hotels and off-licences right across the Province.”
Consideration was first given to the launch of a new range of Armagh cider by the McKeevers back in 2010.
“We saw it very much as a natural progression,” explained Pat. “We were growing apples for the processing and packaging markets and also supplying apples to a number of cider producing companies in the South and thought it would be nice if we could start producing our own brand of cider and so we started looking into that.”
The McKeevers grow and harvest apples from a total of 120 acres, 30 of which are on the home farm.
“Over the last two years we have planted new brambley trees and sweet apples along with dwarf trees, including the fruit wall system, to provide a better quality of fruit that is both easier managed and harvested,” added Peter.
As well as son Peter, Pat and Catherine’s four daughters, Alanna, Catrina, Patricia and Nuala are also involved in the running of the business.