Located in Cobble Hill just south of Duncan, Merridale Ciderworks is a beautiful establishment in Cowichan Valley’s wine territory. This is an ideal stop if you want to make your wine tour more balanced with the addition of cider and spirits.
I have been to the Ciderworks a few times now, and have always been impressed by their efficiency. I usually grab a couple bottles of the Merri Berri or Scrumpy Cider, and check out their shop; there seems to be something tempting there for me each time, and I can’t help but buy something for myself or pick up a classy gift for someone else.
Merridale Ciderworks’ owners Rick Pipes and Janet Docherty have expanded the orchard since they bought it in 2000. Now it is an artisan cidery, orchard, shop, bistro, bakery, distillery, art gallery, and popular wedding venue all rolled into one. Rick and Janet are passionate about their products and are greatly involved with a number of local organizations to promote a strong and healthy environment for the community.
There is a high standard found here of growing, producing, feeding, educating, and entertaining the locals and tourists. If you just come to grab a cider, leave some time for a tour, a tasting, some shopping, and dining.
Top-notch Ciders and Apples to Sample
Merridale’s cider has won the title of Best English Style in Canada and you can sample all seven of the wonderful cider types at a tasting and tour. It’s best to phone ahead for one as everyone enjoys it. No chemicals, preservatives, or concentrates are present: just bare, natural fruit. The flavours of all the ciders taste pure, intense, and deep; I can say the same for the three different dessert wines and non-pasteurized spirits and brandies crafted here on the premises.
One of the cider’s key successes is the types of apples grown in the orchard. The varieties chosen are the same as the popular ones grown in Europe’s best ciders. With the soil and climate conditions being similar, it all adds up to a deliciously intoxicating brew.
The practices here on the farm are dedicated to sustainability and are carefully thought out to have a very small impact on the environment. I was very happy to see some attention given to attract as many bees to the farm as possible; these days one cannot have too many bees. There is more info on the inner workings of the farm when you take a tour and you can see how it runs like a well-oiled machine (that is, a low carbon emission machine).
Merridale is a Hotspot for Festivals and Weddings
All summer long, there are a couple of nice additions to Merridale, like Dinners on the Deck by Chef Ian Blom and Sunday Night Pizza with a live local band to liven things up. The Sunday Brunch has also made a comeback, and will be hosted from Oct. 19 to Dec. 22. Merridale is also a part of the Cowichan Valley Wine Festival, and you can save your tasting and tour for this if you want to experience it in a fun and festive setting.
There is also an opportunity to have a ‘worry free wedding’ here if you are planning to get hitched and would like to have it in a bucolic, rustic setting. Amenities like tents, cakes, a gazebo, and access to the Cider House can be great for your special day.
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