Looking to organize a tour to visit the best Vancouver Island Cider Houses?
Our comprehensive guide to Vancouver Island’s Cider industry includes details on the regions unique history and terroir in British Columba.
Our Vancouver Island Cider guide also features detailed descriptions for the best local cider houses to visit on the island. Enjoy a cider tasting, cider tour, cider picnic or pop by to purchase a few craft cider bottles to enjoy at home.
Plan an apple-lovers road trip of Vancouver Island and you’ll enjoy sipping sweet and dry craft cider, from the southern Saanich Peninsula all the way to Comox.
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Vancouver Island Cider History
Today, Vancouver Island Cider producers can be found from the southern Saanich Peninsula to Comox on the northern end of the island. Many of the best Vancouver Island Cider Houses are located in Cowichan Valley, the island’s famed wine region.
The BC Farm Crafted Cider Association helps set and maintain quality standards by implementing strict eligibility standards for its members. In order to qualify to be a member, a Vancouver Island cider house must be 100% independently and BC-owned, make cider with at least 95% juice content, not dilute with water, make their cider in small batches, slow ferment and make their product on the same farm that the apples are grown.
Celeste Herbert from the BC Farm Crafted Cider Association shared, “We are continuing to see growth in the cider industry – both in terms of new land-based craft producers and commercial producers looking to capitalize on the growing interest in cider. Cider saw a real spike as gluten-free diets gained popularity and while the hype around gluten-free has died down, we’ve definitely gained a lot of converts in the process.”
Herbert continued, “We’ve seen a lot of creativity coming out of our local Vancouver Island cideries, experimenting with different flavour profiles (including everything from chili peppers, herbs and hops, to botanicals and unusual fruit combinations), techniques like barrel-aging and in-bottle fermentation. We are also seeing a ton of great collaboration between cideries on events, festivals and even products.”
Hotels Near Vancouver Island Cider Houses
Vancouver Island Cider houses spread out from the Saanich Peninsula near Victoria to Comox up north.
If you’re planning a road trip of the island, stay at one of these beautiful accommodations in Victoria or Cowichan Valley.
- Fairmont Empress in Victoria: Vancouver Island’s most iconic hotel sits perched over Victoria’s scenic harbour. The 5 star luxury accommodation is an excellent home base for those visiting Victoria who are keen to plan day trips to the wineries in nearby Cowichan Valley and the Saanich Peninsula. The historic hotel offers chic suites, romantic spa, elegant bar and Victoria’s best Afternoon Tea.
- Blue Grouse House in Cowichan: One of Vancouver Island’s most popular wineries offers onsite accommodation. Book a vineyard retreat at Blue Grouse House and enjoy a two-bedroom suite, gas fireplace, modern kitchen and scenic outdoor patio.
- Emandare Vineyard Guest House in Cowichan: Located in Duncan, this luxurious winery accommodation features a fully furnished 950 sqft suite with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, kitchen, front deck with BBQ and Jacuzzi hot tub.
Best Vancouver Island Cider
Fans of fermented apple juice can find happiness driving from Victoria to Comox in search of the best Vancouver Island cider.
The island’s cider producer are located in popular wine regions such as the Saanich Peninsula, Cowachin Valley and Comox. Visitors can enjoy local cider at dedicated ciderhouses as well as wineries which bottle both wine and cider.
Keen to avoid driving so you can sip with glee? Why not book one of these popular food & drink tours of Vancouver Island?
- Small Group Wine & Food Tour to the Cowichan Valley: This 6 hour tour visits 3-4 businesses in the Cowichan Valley. Guests enjoy fine wine, cider and Afternoon Tea.
- Butchart Gardens Seaplane and 3-Course Dinner: This 4 hour tour features a 3-course dinner at Butchart Gardens via seaplane flight from Victoria Harbour.
- Gourmet Victoria Dinner & Drinks Tour: This 2.5 hour tour features stops at 4 local restaurants to sample gourmet dishes paired with wine, beer and cocktails.
- Vancouver Island Cycle Tour: This 12 hour biking tour includes stops to sample farm-fresh food and local wine.
2487 Mt St Michael Rd, 250-544-4824
Sea Cider was launched in 2003 when founder Kristen Needham replanted her family’s Birch Cove orchard on Shuswap Lake with European apple varieties.
Sea Cider’s Mt. St. Michael Orchard on Vancouver Island was the first certified organic orchard and cidery in Canada. It produced the first certified organic cider in North America, a cider they call Flagship. Previously a loganberry farm, they replanted the fields with traditional bittersweet and bittersharp cider varieties in 2004.
Needham explained, “Our Ciderhouse was inspired by St. Donat’s Castle in Wales, where I attended boarding school as a teenager. The long wooden tables, soaring ceiling and wrought iron chandeliers are all reminiscent of my castle experience.”
Lucia Saralegui-Cristobal is Sea Cider’s resident Cidermaker, working at the Vancouver Island cider producer since 2014. Lucia was born in Spain, where she completed her oenology degree and worked for several years as a winemaker, so she takes a European winemaker’s approach to cidermaking.
Needham shared, “I think one of Lucia’s favourite projects was a limited release of a “methode champagnoise” cider, bottle conditioned with a secondary fermentation in the bottle. The nose and effervescence were absolutely captivating!”
Saralegui-Cristobal added, “There is not one style that defines cider these days. Our most terroir-driven cider is Wild English, because we grow the apples right here and it’s fermented from the wild yeast right here.”
Sea Cider is open daily year round for tours and tastings. From the Tasting Room you can view the orchard, and Cider Guides are happy to give guided tours of the Orchard and cidermaking facilities.
Feeling peckish? Order the Sea Cider Lunch Experience, offered daily at 11:15am. It includes a welcome glass of cider, guided tour, tasting flight of 3 ciders, artisan cheese & charcuterie board, and a Sea Cider Glass.
273 Prospect Lake Rd, 250-590-0214
Tod Creek Cider first opened on Vancouver Island in March, 2014.
Owner and cider maker Chris Schmidt purchased an old dairy farm with a derelict barn and abandoned field. With plenty of passion and perseverance, Schmidt transformed the property by restoring the barn and building an orchard and cidery.
Visit Tod Cree Craft Ciders and you’ll find an interior that pays homage to the barns heritage style. Both rustic and charming, the fermentation tanks stand where cows once slept.
Schmidt shared, “I make a modern style cider from a leased orchard in Kelowna, and all my apples grown on the cidery are used for traditional style ciders. My favourite apple is the Dabinett, followed by the Kingston Black.”
Tod Creek Ciders is conveniently located a short drive from downtown Victoria, in the heart of Vancouver Island’s Saanich Peninsula.
Vancouver Island cider aficionados should be sure to sample Tod Creek’s creative curiosities. Bamfield Bound offers a wild fermented, Coastal Blue features local blueberries and Sidre Salvaje is Spanish in the style. The Island Light Kombucha is a unique low alcohol blend of apple juice with green and black teas.
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1230 Merridale Rd, 250-743-4293
Rick Pipes and Janet Docherty opened British Columbia’s first estate cidery in 1990. The duo celebrate Merridale Cider & Distillery’s 30th anniversary this year.
The Vancouver Island cider brand is located in the Cowichan Valley, the heart of the island’s most celebrated wine region. The 20-acre farm takes advantage of Cowichan’s long, slow growing season, as well as having great sun exposure, good elevation with enough of a slope to ensure effective drainage. Unlike many modern cider houses, Merridale’s trees are full sized and aren’t on dwarf root stock, which helps them withstand drought conditions.
When Janet and Rick purchased Merridale Cider in 1999, there was only one small building, which served as production facility, tank storage and tasting room. They believed that cider would take off and knew they wanted to expand the cellar and build a separate farmhouse which would serve as a restaurant, tasting room and retail store.
Janet Docherty shared, “It seemed idyllic and although we knew nothing about making cider, being a farmer, or the liquor industry in general, we thought…“how hard can it be?” My uncle owned a distillery in Mexico that manufactured tequila, so making alcohol was in my blood. Visiting my family and tasting their passion, encouraged us to try our hand at making something that could be crafted with the same passion here on Vancouver Island. Since Merridale’s inception the owners wanted to bring a product to the market that was made in a sustainable way.”
Individuals can enjoy a self guided tour of Merridale’s cellar or groups of 10 or more can book a private tour and tasting for $10 per person. There’s also a family-friendly faerie walk throughout the orchard.
Merridale’s eatery overlooks the orchard and offers farm-inspired comfort food, including fresh brick oven baked cider leavened breads, house-made preserves and sauces and house-smoked cheeses. The Merridale menu was designed to pair with their own ciders and spirits.
The Eatery is open 7 days a week from 11am to 4pm. During the summer we also have long table pizza dinners with live music on Sunday nights.
7661 Mays Rd, 250-510-1018
Owner and Cidermaker Bruce McKinlay first opened Valley Cider Co. on Vancouver Island in July, 2018.
The 27 acre farm in the Cowichan Valley includes fertile pastures, lush forests of maple, fir and cedar, converging hills filled with wild botanicals and berries, and wetlands of spring water flowing into cool creeks.
McKinlay shared, “The Cowichan Valley’s climate more closely resembles the apple growing and cidermaking in southwestern England and Northern France then almost anywhere else in Canada. That’s not saying its necessarily easy to grow apples here, but with a little headstrong tenacity they can be grown with very unique and robust character. Our property is one of the original homesteads in the area, and as such it was chosen for its quality of water, natural features and open exposure. Everything that goes into extraordinary cider!”
So what inspired McKinlay to launch his own cider brand? “I had been making cider for a long time. It turned out to be something I was both passionate about and very good at. Eventually, it became obvious that making the leap from advanced hobbyist to small commercial wasn’t significant enough to be a barrier. My wife pounced on the opportunity to move to a farm in the Cowichan Valley,” said the owner owner of Valley Cider Co.
So what makes Valley Cider’s products unique? ” I didn’t just want to create another nice dry cider. I wanted to use rose petals, lavender, salal berries, arbutus bark, gin and absinthe botanicals, aromatic hops, raw cacao, and yes even my very own bacon. With 14 ciders currently in production and more coming, it’s a long list,” said McKinlay.
Visitors can enjoy tours of the cidery and the orchard. Tasting room hours are limited to weekend afternoons so more personalized visits for private groups can be made during the week.
4905 Darcy Rd, 250-338-9765
Blue Moon Winery and Cider Worx is a family affair run by George Ehrler and Marla Limousin alongside their sons Quinn and Matt. The Vancouver Island Cider producer and winery is located just outside of Comox on Vancouver Island.
Blue Moon Winery first opened in June, 2009 as a fruit winery. The farm that the cidery is now located was originally a well established blueberry farm in Courtenay going back to the early 80’s. The crop was selected for the soil as it is pure peat, perfect for growing blueberries.
In 2012, the family launched Ravens Moon Craft Cider, adding hand-crafted fermented apple products to its already booming wine list.
Ehrler shared, “We wanted a small tasting room where we could sit with each customer and get to know them. We also wanted to have special food related functions on the farm so we built a commercial kitchen and an intimate dining room that could accommodate small gatherings of up to 16 people. The farmland and orchard became the backdrop for outdoor celebrations and feasts.”
Limousin added, “We are cider drinkers from way back, drinking ciders from around the world. Coming at cider making from a wine makers perspective and from using our own fruits became a delightful challenge because we were producing a different type of cider. We also are in love with apples and all the history of the heritage apples in our valley added the ability to work with so many different flavour profiles.”
Those enjoying a road trip of Vancouver Island can stop by to sample Ravens Moon Craft Cider and enjoy self guided tours of the farm.
2186 Endall Rd, 250-337-8325
Coastal Black Winery is owned by Terry and Bonnie Ludwig and first opened its doors near Comox in 2009. The Vancouver Island winery and cider house gets its name from the fact that it’s located on the Coast and its first and most popular Blackberry wine.
Bonnie explained, “We were originally a dairy farm that we built on site from scratch on bare land in 1991. Our children had no desire for dairy farming but wanted to stay on the land and create their own enterprises. Our oldest son Philip has a custom wood milling business, which was beneficial as we created most of the unique spaces in our tasting room and outdoors with his beautifully milled cedar and fir.”
Bonnie continued, “Our son in law had the interest in planting berries to start the winery and our youngest son is a commercial bee keeper on the farm. We produce fruit wine and mead as well as dry cider and also have a substantial blueberry, sweet corn and pumpkin selling business in the Summer and Fall.”
Visit Coastal Black Estate Winery and you’ll find old dairy buildings that have been transformed into a tasting room, patio area and event barn.
Those looking to sample Vancouver Island cider near Comox can sip through Coastal Black Estate Winery’s classic dry cider and apple cranberry cider.
Guests visiting between May and September have an opportunity to “create your own picnic basket” at the winery. Pair a glass of wine or cider with locally sourced meats, cheeses, veggies and chips.
Cider Producers Near Vancouver Island
We suggest hopping on a ferry to visit these additional craft cider producers located on picturesque islands a short boat ride from Vancouver Island.
A visit to Hornby Island, Salt Spring Island, Gabriola Island, or Pender Island offers a great day trip idea for visiting cider fans!
750 Savoie Rd, Hornby Island, 250-686-3481
Fossil Beach Farm is a cider house located on the north shore of Hornby Island. Located amongst British Columbia’s Golf Islands, Hornby is accessible from Vancouver Island by ferry via Denman Island.
Jeff and Aileen Fearman launched Fossil Beach Farm in 2019. Aileen is the fifth generation of her family to farm this land with her husband on Hornby Island. The land is steeped in history and the design and artifacts surrounding the farm reflect that. The 1.1km private road that leads to the cidery passes old growth cedar stumps with springboard notches, rock piles form the church dozer, which cleared the land around 1921.
Many of Fossil Beach Farm’s ciders are named after historic events, people or stories that are associated with the farm. While enjoying cider in the picnic area, guests are invited to read fun facts that are written on the back of tasting notes.
The Horny cider house is built in a west coast contemporary style, with fir timbers, alder trim and finishing milled on site. The clear cedar siding came from nearby Port Alberni. Fossil Beach Farm began as a sustainability project to keep the farm in the family. With the old and new growth orchards already in place and stunning location, it was a natural fit. Aileen’s husband’s father started one of the first craft brewery’s in British Columbia, so craft was in their blood.
Jeff shared, “The 80 acre farm spans over 1.2 kms of waterfront on shale rock. Two dinosaurs have been found on the beach in front of the cidery, and fossil hunters are rewarded for their efforts quite often!”
Fossil Beach Farm’s pours five craft ciders in their tap room, with one experimental called the carbouy series, which is made just 24 litres at a time. Jeff continued, “The flavour profiles of all of our products are fruit forward cider’s using fresh fruit where possible and a sweet and delicious apple base. We’ve targeted each cider to be for a different kind of drinker, from our Hopped Hippy for the beer drinkers with lot’s of Casciadia hops, to the Cidersourus, which is profiled to be similar to a margarita with lime. Most of our cider is made to be crisp, clean and refreshing as we operate primarily in the summer.”
The Fearman’s are currently building a large semi-commercial outdoor cook shack that will have a bar for event’s catering capability. Jeff said, “We hope to host long table dinner’s by local chef’s and restaurants from the west coast of British Columbia.”
7000 Anderson Dr, 250-335-3019
Since 1999, Hornby Island Estate Winery founders and owners, John Grayson and Joan Costello, have been producing delicious wines, ports, and sherry made with local British Columbia fruits and berries.
The popular British Columbia winery is located on scenic Hornby Island, a two ferry journey from Vancouver Island’s Comox Ferry Terminal via Denman Island. Hornby is part of the Gulf Islands wine region, known for long, hot, dry summers.
Although 2007 was the first year that Hornby Island Estate Winery bottled wine and offered tastings, John Grayson is actually an old hat in the British Columbia wine industry. Over 30 years ago Grayson was one of the first farmers to grow wine grapes in the Cowichan Valley while running the Aesthetic Research Centre of Canada in Duncan. He also owned the original Auchinachie Road Farm for more than 10 years.
Today, Hornby Island Estate Winery’s orchard is 20 years old, producing juicy heritage English and French cider apples. Our favourite Hornby Island Estate Winery bottles include Blackberry Portamento, Cranberry Apple Sherry, Blueberry Port and Sparkling Raspberry Wine.
151 Sharp Rd, Salt Spring Island, 250-931-5554
Mike Lachelt and Gerda Lattey first opened Salt Spring Wild Cider House in August, 2015.
Lachelt shared, “Our history is actually very, very special. Salt Spring Island was once the largest apple producer in all of British Columbia. Legend has it there were once more apple trees than people here! This was in the early 1900’s, before rural electricity became widely available in the Okanagan. Since then, the Okanagan became the epicenter of fruit production in the province and commercial apple production on Salt Spring fizzled out. As anyone who spends time on Salt Spring knows, the apple trees from the old days are still here!”
Salt Spring Island is located off the coast of Vancouver Island near the town of Duncan. The scenic island is covered in old orchards that are now spread out over hundreds of farms and properties. Because these apples derive from the early days, they were planted with different goals in mind (harvest times, for use with cooking, cider, eating apples, apples that “keep”, etc). As a result, the island is now known for having over 450 different varieties of apples!
The apple history on Salt Spring Island also means that producers have developed their own unique harvesting process. Rather than picking from acres and acres of a single orchard, Salt Spring Wild Cider House sends out picking crews all over the island, to farms and backyards that are littered with unique varieties of apples.
Lachelt added, “We rogue-style pick over 250,000 lbs of apples each year! As a result, the process has revitalized apple production and the apple culture associated with it. People all over the island are now keen to pick their own apples and deliver them to our pressing shed at the cidery. It’s brought a lot of people together and reconnected people to one of the island’s most historic farming practices.”
The couple revitalized an old horse barn that was on the property when they originally purchased it. The current tasting room was originally a mule stall. The owners have expanded the barn since.
Hungry visitors can enjoy a meal at Salt Spring Wild Cider House’s onsite restaurant. All produce comes from the cidery’s own garden, and from organic farms on the island. The chef prepares delicious and creative farm style tapas, that vary in size from appetizers and share plates to full meals.
1240 Coats Dr, Gabriola Island, 250-325-1111
Ravenskill Orchard is located on British Columbia’s Gulf Islands, a stones throw from Nanaimo across from Vancouver Island.
British Columbia’s Gulf Islands are a unique archipelago made up of sedimentary sandstone leading to a diverse ecological system. The rocky islands and unusual plant life coupled with the Mediterranean climate have created a very interesting terroir. Many years ago, original settlers grew an abundance of apples with the seedlings they brought over from Europe.
Ravenskill Ciders owners Martha Wright and Keith Mackenzie first planted the apple orchard in 2008. The cider house opened for sales in 2015, selling bottles from its 2014 harvest.
Wright shared, “Our cidery was inspired by the classic shape of the many barns from farms located in Eastern Canada and the Northeastern United States such as New York, where the Dutch influenced many a barn and orchard.”
Mackenzie continued, “We wanted to create a family adventure of visiting a true orchard on a crisp fall day to pick fully ripened sweet apples fresh from the tree to the public on Vancouver Island. To drink freshly pressed apple cider and enjoy this cider at the peak of ripeness. This common east coast activity is not common to this region.”
When the duo first sold Gabbies’ cider, it was one of the few ciders in North America that was considered a true dry (less than 5 grams of sugar per liter) craft cider.
Wright continued, “Fast forward 5 years later, now there are many dry ciders being produced by excellent craft cideries. We are proud to have help develop a regional Vancouver Island dry cider taste profile. These regional ciders are dry, soft in the tannins that finish with a bright mineral acidity. So refreshing!”
Visitors to Ravenskill Orchard can enjoy snacking at an outdoor picnic area, where freshly poured ciders can be sampled with charcuterie.
Guests can also enjoy an orchard and cider house tour that last approximately 30-60 minutes depending on the group’s questions. Ravenskill also offers 2-hour cheese making classes, paired with a selection of their ciders. Tickets must be purchased in advance.
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5601 Lupin Rd, Pender Island
Twin Island Cider is also located within the Gulf Islands, on Pender Island near Victoria.
Owners Matthew Vasilev, Katie Selbee, Sandra MacPherson and Noel Hall opened the cider house off the coast of Vancouver Island in February, 2016.
Selbee shared, “Each year Matthew and I, along with friends and family, made cider from Gravenstein and King apples we harvested from century-old apple trees on Matthew’s grandparent’s property. We had the dream of starting a land-based farming and cidery project on the island and in 2015 we met Sandra and Noel who owned a parcel of unused farmland and had a similar vision for it. We named it Twin Island because you can see the bridge connecting the North and South Pender Islands from the cidery, and also because our production is focused on tending, gathering and exploring the profiles of the rare fruit on these two islands we live on.”
The Pender Island cider house was originally part of a homestead and orchard first established around 1910. The owners built a tiny 100 sq ft tasting room using reclaimed old growth fir lumber found onsite and siding, doors and windows from the original Port Washington General Store.
Selbee added, “The apple orchards we care-take and harvest here are typically over 100 years old and include many rare, unknown and sometimes wild-seedling varieties that have excellent acidity and tannin for cider and perry. Whereas modern orchards are planted on dwarfing rootstock and grown high-density, the trees we harvest on Pender Island are full-standard and often range from twenty to thirty feet tall, with equally large branch spread.”
So how does Twin Island craft its artisanal cider? “We ferment only with native yeasts using spontaneous fermentation and have a preference for traditional sparkling wine methods such as petillant naturel (ancestral method), traditional (champagne” method and secondary in-bottle fermentation. Our batches explore the profiles of antique varieties such as Baldwin, King of Tompkins, Golden Russet, Canada Reinnette, and we also make a very fine perry from these tiny, incredibly tannic, high acid wild seedling pears we find growing around the island,” said Selbee.
During regular summer hours Twin Island Cider is open five days a week for tastings and offer a longer cidery talk/tour/tasting on Sundays at 11 am. $5 per person. One of the cider makers leads the tour and guides guests around the mill and traditional-style rack and cloth press.
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