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The story begins in Hungary in 1981 with a quick glimpse of a little fruit press in a shop window. Alex Hill, then a fresh-faced graduate seeking a break from motorcycle-messengering in London, had cycled from London to Budapest. This glimpse was enough to entice him to despatch the little press back to London and try his hand at home wine and cider making. Back at home the press became an attraction amongst his friends, who put in requests for their own, and it was from this small beginning that the seed was sown to start a mail order business selling fruit presses.
In true entrepreneurial spirit, he bought a small number of presses, borrowed a car and drove around London offering the presses to enthusiastic Home Brew shop owners, before taking the plunge and ordering a lorry load. The presses were stored under the railway arches in Battersea, London, and advertisements placed in the Saturday newspapers.
In 1987 he and his wife moved down to the very heart of “cider making country” - the West Country - where they continued to encourage those with a fruit garden or orchard to share their passion of making fruit juice and cider. Demand for products rose and, alongside selling presses to home users, they took on employees and began selling equipment for commercial apple juice and cider makers, vineyards and wineries.
Since Vigo began, there has been an increasing public awareness of where food comes from and how it is produced, boosted by movements such as the Organic Movement and the Slow Food movement. An unexpected demonstration in 1995 of one of our apple presses on BBC’s Gardeners’ World, by popular organic gardener, Bob Flowerdew, took us completely by surprise and resulted in our selling out of fruit presses and crushers just after the programme was broadcast. Vigo products have continued to receive media coverage since this time including The Alan Titchmarsh Show, River Cottage Veg and even Midsummer Murders! You may have been lucky enough to see a pressing demonstration at one of the Apple Day events that take place throughout the country, at the Bath & West Show or the Edible Garden Show. We were delighted when Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall visited our stand at the Edible Garden Show in 2014.
In September 2015 the company split into Vigo Presses (Retail) and Vigo Ltd (Commercial). Local cider and juice maker, Paul Courtney, purchased the Retail business, adding additional support to the already enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff. Paul bought his own first apple press and crusher from Vigo over 8 years ago, and his family makes 6,000 litres of cider and a few thousand bottles of apple juice each year, and was delighted when their dry ‘Prize Bull’ cider was awarded first prize at the 2015 Devon County Show.
All of our staff are enthusiastic and experienced juice and cider makers and it is this expertise that makes Vigo what it is today. We designed this website to reflect the accumulated knowledge of our directors and staff alike and we use it today to invite you to share our passion and make the most of your fruit!
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