The residents of Vancouver Island tend to place a lot of stock in buying locally, and preserving sustainable farming practices. Simply put, we like our farm-fresh produce and craft-made ciders, ales, wines and tasty treats. For this reason, farmers in the area can afford to specialize a bit, taking on a niche market instead of offering a broad range of goods. Merridale Estates Cidery is an excellent example of this. As implied by the name, their area of specialty lies in crafting fine ciders, and other spirits. Merridale goes a step beyond simply offering a specialty product, though. What they really offer is an experience.
Highlights of Merridale Cider
- Farm store
- Special events venue
- Self-guided tours
- Distinctive ciders and spirits
- Yurts available for a unique getaway
When you arrive, what you see first is typical: a few big barns and a water tank with their logo and the word “welcome” on it, with an arrow showing you where to go. When you follow the path that arrow leads to, though, what you see is like something taken straight out of a fairytale. Before you lies a huge field, filled with seemingly endless apple trees. In the spring, the air is rich with the smell of blossoms. In the fall, you can smell the tantalizing scent of ripe red apples. You’ll want to bring your camera, as well as your appetite, because there are photo opportunities in abundance here.
Inside the main building, you’ll find a bistro with delicious food, and a shop where you can buy all kinds of things, like pies, alcohol and gifts. In the La Pommeraie bistro, you’ll experience quality local favourites that range from simple comfort foods like pizza to tasty delights, like their roasted salmon. The service just adds to the pleasant experience, as the staff is friendly and eager to please. If you are planning to visit, it is worth the while to go a little early, so that you can get a table overlooking the beautiful orchard— especially when the trees are blooming in the spring, or bearing ripe fruit in the fall!
Tasting at Merridale Cider
You’ll also have an opportunity to try the different ciders that Merridale Estates is known for, by either tasting them from a flight of cider, or buying the one that is most appealing to you. Merridale’s selection ranges from dry ciders with a slightly earthy but appealing taste, to sweet and fruity dessert ciders that have been described as being like a good port wine. As well as their famous cider, Merridale also crafts several other noteworthy spirits, including Apple Oh de Vie, Copper Gin, Vodka, Cowichan Gin, Brandy, and Stair’s Pear Brandy.
If you’re curious about how Merridale crafts their ciders, you can arrange to take a self-guided tour of the facility and see the process and the equipment up close. Plenty of interesting information is provided about the apples, the process of making cider, and the equipment itself, so that you come away from the tour having genuinely learned something. You’ll find the staff at Merridale Estates Cidery to be extremely knowledgeable, friendly, and eager to please. This place is definitely worth the trip, whether you are coming for the cider, the food, or the agro-tourism experience.