Winter in BC can be a drudgery. In a temperate rainforest, winters are cold and wet where, on average, 1500 millimeters of rain falls per year. That’s rain with a capital ‘R’. The days are dark with looming clouds and it hampers even the toughest outdoor-person’s plans. If you’re a little tired of the coffee shop visits and endless rain walks and need something a little outside of the box, try visiting one of the many award-winning cideries on Vancouver Island!
To kick off this list, we’re starting at the southwest corner of Vancouver Island, at the very unique Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery in Sooke. As the name suggests, this farm specializes in mead, the ancient potable made from fermented honey, yeast and water. This beautiful farm is home to carefully tended beehives that are perfectly placed to allow the bees to forage the local wildflowers, producing the most flavourful honey. If you are searching for a unique experience, Tugwell Farms is worth the trip and if you’re staying at Pacific Coast Beach House and Suite or Arbutus Hill you’ll only be X minutes away! All the way around to the other side of south Vancouver Island, on the Saanich Peninsula right near Dalmeny Farm Estate and Patricia Bay Beach House, you’ll find one of the most well-known cideries on Vancouver Island, Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse. Boasting over 60 certified organic varietals of both cider apples and heritage varietals, Sea Cider offers visitors a chance to both sample their large selection of ciders and snack on carefully created dishes in the tasting room. Just north of Victoria, in the Cowichan Valley, is the charming Merridale Cidery & Distillery. The large, inviting, barn-turned-restaurant and tasting room sits on the 20 acre orchard in Cobble Hill and is a great place to kick back on a rainy day, especially if you’re staying close by at Cowichan Bay Oceanfront Estate. Heading north, just outside Duncan and only X minutes away from Lake Cowichan Escape, is the hip Valley Cider where you can find excellent quality craft cider and super friendly, knowledgeable staff. Make sure you leave with a few to enjoy later – the label alone is worth purchasing a few.
In the beautiful town of Courtenay, near Kye Bay Beach House you’ll find Raven’s Moon Craft Cider who not only produce traditional apple cider, these innovators use a variety of fresh fruit like blueberries, blackberries and plums, grown right on the farm to produce some surprisingly delicious flavour combinations. Just north of Raven’s Moon is the quirky-meets-classic farm, Coastal Black Estate Winery where they take their slogan Take a Break from the Grape, very seriously. You won’t find any traditional grape varietals here, instead, the folks at Coastal Black produce sensational fruit wines, mead, sparkling wine and port-style wine using local berries and fruit.
The Gulf Islands are home to some incredible cideries and while they are a little off the beaten track, they are absolutely worth a visit. First up on our Gulf Island cideries list is the artisanal Twin Island Cider on Pender Island. Harvested from hundred-year-old apple and pear trees, these avid and conscientious farmers are making excellent craft cider and perry that’ll delight. Hopping over to Salt Spring Island, you’ll find Salt Spring Wild Cider, a quaint, rustic cider house run by a stone sculptor and a philosopher. This little cidery makes it’s popular libation as close to the traditional English version as possible from a combination of apples from the heritage trees in their orchard, local organic orchards, and wild apple trees in the area. Both Twin Island and Salt Spring Wild Cider are a short ferry ride from Tsawassen and while they are both worth a visit no matter where you are coming from, guests at Resthaven Cottage, Heronview Cottage, or Heron’s Landing are only a ten minute drive to the ferry terminal! Farther north, a short ferry from Departure Bay ferry terminal near Columbia Beach House is beautiful Gabriola Island, home to Ravenskill Orchard and Gabbie’s Cidery. This unique orchard is a popular u-pick site as well as a cidery and with over a thousand trees and over 25 varieties, Ravenskill has produced some exceptional, dry traditional cider.
Winter in BC can feel very long but with so many cideries to visit even the winter months can be full of new experiences. Just make sure to pick up a few bottles on your visit, local hand-crafted cider makes a great present and can be an excellent pairing to your favourite home-cooked meal – an excellent way to see it through the winter months in BC.