OKANAGAN - There’s more for the thirsty soul in the Okanagan Valley than just wine, and locally-made cider is here to prove it.
A number of cideries have blossomed in the Okanagan over the last few years, including the family-run BX Press in Vernon. Owners Dave and Melissa Dobernigg opened their craft cider house last May and sold out of their 12,000 bottle inventory by August. The all natural, branch to bottle ciders are made with pure juice pressed from their own apples, and no added sugars, unlike most commercial ciders.
“We love it because you can’t get much more local of a drink,” Melissa says.
While many consumers tend to think of cider as sweet and sugary — the soda pop of booze — today’s craft cider is much more complex with many drier flavours on tap.
“It’s sophisticated enough that you can pair it with food,” Melissa says.
She expects the Okanagan, with its ample supply of fresh fruit, will follow in the steps of Washington and Oregon, where the cider industry has exploded in the last few years. Already, the Okanagan is home to several producers, including Howling Moon in Oliver, the East Kelowna Cider Co., and the new B.C. Tree Fruits’ Broken Ladder in Kelowna.
“There’s a fairly collaborative vibe amongst most cideries, and we would like to promote a cider route. I think we’ll get there eventually,” Melissa says.
A local liquor store manager says cider is proving extremely popular with customers, especially in the summer when the crisp, refreshing flavour is most sought after. Colin Hamilton at the Village Green Hotel Liquor Store in Vernon has a number of Okanagan ciders on the shelves, and that’s something new compared to a few years ago.
“It’s an extension of the craft wine and beer trend,” Hamilton says. “It’s the natural next step.”
He says the craft cider section of the store, while modest, is constantly expanding, and seeing bourgeoning sales. It’s a trend that goes for the industry at large. In a March 2015 press release from B.C. Tree Fruits, marketing manager Chris Pollock said the craft cider category is the fastest growing in the beverage sector.
The Okanagan has long been spoiled with a wealth of local wineries, and this summer, it's got even more to enjoy. Keep an eye out for these local ciders:
Rider Cider - Winfield
East Kelowna Cider Company - Kelowna
Twisted Hills Craft Cider - Keremeos
The BX Press - Vernon
Dominion Cider - Summerland
Howling Moon - Oliver
Orchard Hill Estate Cidery - Oliver
Broken Ladder - Kelowna
Left Field Cider - Logan lake
Summerland Heritage Cider Company - Summerland
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