If you are a lover of good food and drink then the Beaver Valley Cidery is your place to visit, the second craft cidery in all of Ontario. They have a variety of ciders that you can enjoy in their tasting room Thursday-Sunday 11am-6pm and all holidays. I do not know about you, but sampling and purchasing local cider in a lovely renovated circa 1870 barn surrounded by the beautiful Beaver Valley scenery sounds like the perfect way to spend an afternoon to me and to owners John and Judy too.
The couple have been working as accountants in Toronto for many years and were first drawn to the Beaver Valley eighteen years ago for the great skiing. After purchasing property and spending part of their time here they decided that they wanted something to set their roots in the valley. The couple have always had a passion for food and wine and with property in prime apple country, opening a cidery seemed like the perfect business to start. They studied cider making in the United Kingdom improving their knowledge and skills for years and planted their orchards in 2009 before their public opening in 2013.
The cidery is now in its third year of operation and is growing strong, but still staying very family oriented and local. The cidery now has eight apple orchards filled primarily with Russet apples, but also with a large portion of Tolman Sweet apples, and Snow apples which are a parent to the Macintosh. All of the apples used in the making of the cider are from the Beaver Valley Cidery’s own orchards, from other local farms, or are picked wildly from the area to make their wild apple cider.
John says that there are struggles in keeping all of the apples local, as apple growing seasons can vary from good to bad years. Moreover, since they have converted to organic practices two years ago there are constant obstacles to face from insects to deer. However, John says that that is just part of the business: they celebrate the good years and work through the bad to create the best cider possible for their clients. The two pick their apples in late October, press the juice in November, and then add cultured wine yeast to convert the apples’ sugars to alcohol. Over the winter the juice ferments for approximately 6 months, and they then age the cider for up to another 6 months for optimum taste. John notes that there are never any additives in their products. They never add any more juice, sugars, or alcohol to their cider like most industrial cideries would. Therefore, the ciders may vary from year to year depending on said year’s apple growing conditions, but they want all of their ciders to be pure and genuine. It may be a long and trying process, but the end product is definitely worth it.
Although this is a small craft cidery in a rural area, that does not stop John and Judy from growing their cidery and making their mark on the cider industry. The two started their business with one product: their flag ship cider which took home the gold medal at North America’s largest cider competition in April in the “New World’s Cider” category. The Beaver Valley Cidery now has four different kinds of ciders, plus the new cranberry cider and ice cider premiering this season. Although John and Judy’s cider is clearly top notch, they have no interest in becoming an industrial cidery providing for the LCBO or for restaurants. John says they enjoy the small batch nature of their practice and they are proud that they may very well be the smallest cidery in Ontario. John also says that one of his favourite parts about the business is getting to meet all of the interesting people that come and visit the orchard. “Everyone who comes in has a smile on their face, is happy, and open minded,” John shares, “you see the best of people in this business”. Now that is something that industrial cideries miss out on!
Furthermore, the Beaver Valley Cidery recently hosted their first event the “Colours of the Valley Art Show”. Complete with fifteen artists and craftspeople, food, entertainment, and a kids zone. It was a great success with over 300 paid adult admissions which the Beaver Valley Outreach charity collected. They hope to hold more events similar to this one since it was such a sensation. They plan on growing their quantities this year. Last year they produced approximately 12, 000L of cider and they wish to increase that by 30% this year. In the future John and Judy also want to continue to grow their knowledge and experience in apple growing. John adds they would like to explore barrel aging and barrel fermentation more ultimately trying to make better cider for the valley.
Pay John and Judy a visit in the heart of the Beaver Valley on Grey Road 13 leaving Kimberley towards Heathcote. Enjoy their ciders and a tour of their facilities.