'It's been an extraordinary year': Meet the managing director at Dunkertons Cider

Cheltenham has a wealth of incredible independent shops, bars, pubs and restaurants, with passionate business owners behind them who love what they do – just like Melanie Cheeseman from Dunkertons Cider.

The people behind Cheltenham’s diverse independent businesses are just one of the reasons the Regency town is such a happy place.
The people behind Cheltenham’s diverse independent businesses are just one of the reasons the Regency town is such a happy place.

Cheltenham has an array of amazing independent restaurants, pubs, shops and businesses – with the people that run them making them truly unique.

SoGlos has teamed up with the ‘Find Your Happy Place’ campaign from Visit Cheltenham to meet some of the business owners in the town and discover just why Cheltenham is such a happy place.

It’s also encouraging people to share pictures of their happy place on social media by using the hashtag #HappyPlaceCheltenham and tagging Visit Cheltenham — and to explore the hashtag for more happy place inspo!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m Melanie Cheeseman and I’m the Managing Director at Dunkertons Organic Cider. Although I am not a Cheltenham resident, I went to the University of Gloucestershire as a mature student and have worked with Cheltenham businesses since 2007.

Tell us all about Dunkertons Cider.

Dunkertons Cider was founded in Herefordshire in 1980 by Ivor and Susie Dunkerton. They wanted to make deep flavoured ciders using traditional varieties of cider apples and perry pears grown in Soil Association certified organic orchards. In 2018 we opened our cidery and cider shop just outside Charlton Kings and last year we added the Marquee Bar.

How has business been for Dunkertons Cider over the last year?

It’s been an extraordinary year. Our online sales and supermarket orders increased significantly while at the same time all our on-trade sales halted. In February 2020, we opened our cidery taproom with plans to develop the concept and broaden our tour offering, then lockdown put an end to those plans.

Now we have an impressive Marquee Bar at the front of our cidery which is open seven nights a week, with street food vendors serving delicious pizzas, burgers, tacos, noodles and more.

How has Dunkertons Cider adapted to lockdown restrictions?

We committed to staying agile and subsequently altered our e-business model to focus on national sales and launched a local grocery delivery service during the first lockdown.

We also extended our shop range, sourcing from local suppliers as much as possible and installed a grab and go section. We are now in the process of installing a traditional instore organic deli.

What can people expect from a visit to the Dunkertons Cider Marquee Bar?

Visitors can expect a relaxed environment with a festival vibe and plenty of space for friends and family to meet, where there is an emphasis on serving organic and sustainable products. You can expect engaging and friendly staff who are passionate about the cider we make too.

There are plenty of street food options available to suit all tastes and we have some great events planned over the coming months.

Why is Dunkertons Cider a happy place?

We offer a warm welcome to families and dogs and provide the opportunity to gather safely out in the open. With our relaxed atmosphere, Dunkertons Cider shop and Marquee Bar is a fantastic place to enjoy some of the incredible food and drink that Gloucestershire has to offer, not forgetting the brilliant street food vendors who boost the vibrant energy.

What can locals and visitors do to make businesses happy?

Whenever possible, support local. Locally produced food and drink generally have fewer steps between the grower and consumer with greater transparency and full traceability, which adds value to the purchase. Use independents rather than chains and support charity shops by donating unwanted items.

Where is your happy place in Cheltenham and why?

Lineover Woods are a great place to walk my dog and there are a few different trails to choose from. The peace and tranquillity provide space to gather thoughts and appreciate the wonders of mother nature.

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