Kathleen van der Ree and Alison Round share a love for cider and the Salmon Arm property that is now home to their business, Northyards Cider Co.
The two have been producing craft ciders since 2018. Based in Squamish, Northyards’ commercial presence in the community’s former industrial area became a local favourite.
Despite their success, the two wanted a property where they could grow – and having additional space would become important with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Around March 13 of last year, van der Ree said they were looking at property in Naramata when the pandemic hit, creating challenges for their business, including limited seating capacity. Van der Ree said they looked at properties throughout the Okanagan but none of them were quite right. Eventually, van der Ree said she was contacted by her uncle, Dave Peel, who lives with his wife Eileen in Salmon Arm. He told her about the historic 29-acre Hanna and Hanna Farm for sale at 3181 11th Ave. NE, which included 6,500 apple trees consisting of 32 varietals, including at least one that’s unique to the property, the Hanna Special.
“We got a tour from James Hanna and instantly fell in love with the property and fell in love with James,” said van der Ree.
In December, the Hanna’s announced the sale of their property.
“It is a unique property and we certainly weren’t willing to sell it to anybody…” Hanna told the Observer at the time of the sale. “It had to be good for the community, it had to be good for our neighbours, it had to be right and I think these people who have purchased it… they will do well and I think they will take it to the next level.”
Van der Ree, a practising lawyer, looks after the business side of Northyards, while Round is the company’s head cider maker. With the purchase of the Hanna property, Round is excited by the all the varietals she now gets to work with. She’s also grateful for the ongoing support of the Hanna brothers.
“Through the winter Stuart was out pruning an hour, an hour and a half every day, and it wasn’t even his anymore. It was amazing,” said Round.
“I text James at least once a week and we see him at least every two weeks. We talk to him weekly because he’s just such a wealth of knowledge. He wants to see us succeed which is amazing and he’s happy to help that way. He’s amazing.”
In addition to the apples, the former Hanna property also provided ample space for Northyards to expand its offerings. North of the tasting and sales area is an outdoor patio area where people can enjoy a flight of ciders and the view, which includes a nearby pumpkin patch that van der Ree and Round plan to open to the public for picking.
“You can come and have a pint and carve a pumpkin and leave the compost here for us so that we can turn it back into goodness for the land, but otherwise you get to hang out and experience fall right in the orchard,” said Round, later noting pints are not yet available, but will be.
Van der Ree and Round have plenty of ideas percolating about events they could host at the property. One thing they’re already working towards is acquiring organic status. They’re already a year into the three-year process.
Open Wednesdays to Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Northyards will be hosting a “soft opening” on Saturday, Sept. 25. Cider will be available to try and buy in the tasting room and, as was the case when it was the Hanna’s property, apples are also available for purchase.
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