Organic cider workshop taking place in Cawston on July 14

Cider workshop in the Similkameen


Rob Horrick – Report on the North West Cider Society workshop held last Oct. in Mount Vernon Washington.

Dwight Brown – Report on the design, source and cost of  plant equipment needed to produce cider from 80 to 100 tons of apples and an over view of a taste study carried out 7 years ago using dessert apples.

Rhys Pender – Report on the market potential for an organic cider in B.C. and Alberta,  the legal and government requirements to establish a Cidery and the potential distribution channels available to market  and distribute product in B.C. and Alberta.

The afternoon ends with some taste testing and evaluation of product.

This project was initiated by Cawston Cold Storage (CCS)  with 50 per cent funding from the Organic Sector Development Fund (OSDF) to create interest in and to provide useful information for anyone who wishes to establish a commercial organic cider business.

Cawston Cold Storage stores, packs and sells a full range of organic tree fruits produced by its shareholders as well as 24 other organic growers located in the Similkameen  and Okanagan Valleys.  The company handles and sells about 80 per cent of all the organic tree fruits produced in British Columbia with annual sales of about $10 million.

Though there is a good market for organic cull apples, on bad hail years there can be excess supply.  CCS applied to Organic Sector Development Fund to do a study on the potential for taking the culls and hail damaged apples of the varieties they handle and creating  an organic cider business using this  kind of product.

If an organic cider market were to be developed to utilize this oversupply of produce and hopefully create a demand for more, all commercial organic tree fruit producers in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys (est. 60 enterprises) would benefit as it will firm up the price for all the apples culls that are sold.  If this comes to fruition and is located in the Similkameen Valley it will further enhance the “ Organic Capital of Canada” prestige, as well as complimenting the two organic fruit wineries and the other conventional wineries in the valley.    If the potential returns are anywhere near what people close to this area of business speculate then those growers directly supplying the cull product will double or triple their current returns for their culls.

Two blends of varying degrees of dryness have been made from the 2010 crop. The first  used  1/3 Mac, 1/3  Braeburn and 1/3  Pink Lady:  the second  used  50 per cent Fuji and 50 per cent equal share of  Mac, Breaburn and Pink Lady.  As well as creating  a “garage  test product”,  other evaluation reports on conventional apple ciders produced 7 years ago by Okanagan Similkameen Coop  in cooperation with wine evaluators at the Agriculture Canada Research Station in Summerland has also been acquired to help with the study.

CCS has been able to involve the following people to assist in developing this project.

Dwight Brown holds a Master’s Degree in Food Science specializing in Fermentation Technology.  He lives in Oliver and has worked in the fruit industry in the Okanagan Similkameen since 1971.  He was the Wine Maker at Casabello Wines in the early 70’s.  He was a contractor for OSC in Oliver for 13 years, during which time he researched the fermentation of dessert apples to make Okanagan apple cider. He provided the technical support for a local grower to start up a cidery in 2005/06.  Dwight will provide technical information about how to make cider, as well as plant design and where to source the equipment needed and it’s cost for an 80 to 100 ton cider processing plant. As an experienced organic inspector and food safe auditor he is well versed in the organic requirements as well.

Rhys Pender has done a market survey of restaurants and liquor outlets in B.C. and Alberta to assess the sales potential of a high-end “boutique” organic cider.  He is also creating a “how to” to meet and get through all the regulations required to start up a commercial Cidery as well as looking at the potential distribution channels available to market a line of product in B.C. and Alberta.

Rhys lives with his family in Cawston, he is a wine educator, consultant, judge and freelance writer through his company Wine Plus+ and his website In 2010 Rhys became Canada’s youngest Master of Wine (MW). In 2008 Rhys was named as one of the “Top 40 Foodies Under 40” in Western Canada by Western Living magazine. He writes for a number of publications, judges internationally and is increasingly becoming recognized as one of Canada’s leading experts in the wine business.

Rob Horrick will report on a five day workshop he attended last October in Mount Vernon Washington on Cider production and Marketing.    The workshop was put on by the North West Cider Society and was taught by the Peter Mitchell from Britain who is considered to be one of the world experts in cider production and marketing.

Rob has over 16 years of produce experience and is committed to promoting and developing organic food production.  Fresh out of university Rob launched his first business, Organic Express in Calgary which operated for seven years before being sold to Small Potatoes Urban Delivery. In 2004, Blush Lane Organic Produce was founded at the Calgary Farmers’ Market and the Horricks family subsequently purchased a 10-acre organic orchard and fruit stand in Keremeos, B.C. Blush Lane Organic Orchard is owned an operated by Robert and his wife Zenya, who specialize in tree ripened fruit sold directly to customers at their B.C. fruit stand and at the Blush Lane Calgary locations.