The Georgian Bay region’s cold-climate apples make excellent craft cider. Growers & producers have taken note. By Allison Kennedy Davies.
In recent years, we’ve become a discerning bunch about our beverage choices. What we sip by the campfire and what we serve with our 100-mile meal really matters. With massive growth in the local craft beer scene, Georgian Bay is quickly becoming a hotbed for hard cider production too.
As one of the largest apple growing regions in Ontario, cider is an ideal fit – for both local growers and local producers.
As a region, we’re already welcoming a steady stream of tourists, and with a growing culinary tourism sector (think of the popular Apple Pie Trail), the cider industry has a promising future here.
As Ontario Craft Cider Association’s Nick Sutcliffe explains, the apples in the Georgian Bay region are also a great fit for cider production. “The reality is that because it’s so far north but so close to a large body of water, the apples are spectacular for making cider,” explains Sutcliffe. “The cold weather increases the acidity and the higher the acidity, ultimately, the better the cider.”
“People are looking for a good, natural quality refreshing drink and Ontario craft cider falls right in that category,” continues Sutcliffe. Naturally gluten free, cider has also been a popular choice with a growing number of consumers seeking out that option.
Cideries are popping up across the region. From the Beaver Valley Cidery near Kimberley to Coffin Ridge in Leith, Thornbury Cider, Duxbury Cider in Meaford and Spirit Tree Cider near Caledon, the options for different tastes and experiences is expanding yearly.
“This area has a long apple-growing tradition,” explains the Beaver Valley Cidery’s John Mott. “Among area growers, the competitive pressures are tough. We see cider creating a new market for many of those apples. In the U.K., nearly half of their apple crop goes to cider. If we could even get a fraction of that here, it would be a big economic driver for this region.”
Sutcliffe echoes that sentiment. “We’re having a massive impact and I think you’ll see a lot more trees going in the ground and a lot more farmers making more money,” he explains. “The Georgian Bay region has a huge role to play in the big picture of craft cider in Ontario.”
So, this summer, whether you’re pairing a chilled bottle with your carefully crafted meal or packing your cooler with cans for your latest camping trip, you’ll be supporting local growers and producers while sampling some of the best craft cider in North America. We’ll drink to that!
Beaver Valley Cidery, Kimberley
Featuring a beautifully restored heritage barn that serves as a tasting room, this newly opened cidery draws from local producers and their own orchard for apples.
Duxbury Cider, Meaford
Made exclusively with Georgian Bay apples, Duxbury Cider is on tap at the Barrhead Pub and Grill in Markdale, Ted’s Range Road Diner and the Leeky Canoe in Meaford and Monforte on Wellington in Stratford.
Thornbury Village Cidery
The longest standing commercially produced Georgian Bay cider, Thornbury Cider is widely available at the LCBO.
Coffin Ridge, Leith
New for 2014, Coffin Ridge recently released their cider in cans, now available at the LCBO. Tastings are also available at the winery.
Georgian Hills Vineyard, Thornbury
The most recent addition to the local cider industry, the team at Georgian Hills Vineyard released their first offering in June. This dry, medium bodied cider joins their already popular Perry (pear) cider. Made predominantly from Ida Red apples, tastings are available at the vineyard.
Spirit Tree Estate Cidery, Caledon
Featuring five varieties of hard cider alongside their Cider Bistro, Bakery, Kitchen and Farm Store. Available at LCBO.
Pommies Dry Cider, Caledon
Made from heirloom apples, Pommies Dry Cider is available at the LCBO.