While the Canadian West Coast city of Vancouver is known for its moderate, rainy climate, a five-hour drive inland to British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley will find you in a sun-drenched, arid region synonymous with beach life on the lake, boutique wineries crafting everything from Riesling to Syrah and a landscape of lakes, rivers, mountains and scattered wild sagebrush. While the local wine industry is becoming increasingly known to quality imbibers, there is now a burgeoning craft cider scene that is starting to turn heads.
It was only a matter of time really, as the Okanagan Valley has been the fruit basket of western Canada for generations, with both heritage and contemporary varieties of apples as key crops, along with pears, peaches, cherries and many more orchard fruits growing in abundance.
There are now over a dozen cideries in the area, a few that have been built from the ground up, while others are off-shoots of wineries, fruit stands and breweries. Cider is not only welcomed as an enjoyable tipple for locals and visitors, but it has also earned a spot at the dinner table as an amiable complement to local seafood and a myriad of Asian cuisines that emanate from the region’s proximity to the Pacific Rim.
The popularity of Okanagan craft cider is certainly hailed by many, as evidenced by the recent emergence of B.C. Cider Week, a province-wide festival chock-full of tastings, dinners and retail events. Whether you’re in the Okanagan’s main lakeside city of Kelowna or situated around Oliver — a town nestled in Canada’s only desert climate (as in cacti, rattlesnakes and the lot) — do make a point of visiting a handful of the Okanagan Valley’s cideries and immerse yourself in the local bounty.
Here are a few standouts from the region to check out.
Left Field Cider Co. The Bunk House Dry-Hopped
Local apples are one thing, but adding local hops to the mix adds extra dimension to this beauty crafted by Kate Garthwaite, who had British cider legend Peter Mitchell as a mentor. All of her ciders have a decidedly British bent, this one remarkably expressive yet gentle with spearmint, sage, lemon and apricot.
BC Tree Fruits Cider Co. Broken Ladder Apples
A collective of over 500 growers, this cidery does not rest on the laurels of having the pick of the crop. Local, renowned winemaker Bertus Albertyn brings his particular grace and charm to the project, making this classic cider round and juicy, complex with an abundance of varieties.
Faustino Estate Cidery Apple Quince
The Faustino family’s cider is crafted from Gala, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples, but it’s the addition of quince that brings elements of, well, quince — but also dried apricot, apple skin and washed with a refreshing wave of lemonade.
Dominion Cider Co. Ginger
With a goal to create handcrafted products from scratch and sustainably from the land, the Ginger cider succeeds as such, made in collaboration with Dickie’s Ginger, a Vancouver-made artisanal ginger beer crafted with real ginger, cane sugar and lemons.