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Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands that sit off its eastern coast are perfectly suited to the sweet, complex world of cider. Wet winters combined with sunny spring and summers and the crisp fall days of autumn means Van Isle is becoming a bit of a Canadian cider Utopia. And we have the cideries to prove it. Strap in the passenger seat while a good friend drives you through the flavours of Vancouver Island.

*Cideries produce alcohol that is between TK% and TK% ABV (alcohol by volume), so wherever the cider path delivers you and your friends, plan ahead with a designated driver.

Part 1

Comox Valley

Raven’s Moon
Born from an organic blueberry farm that borders the beautiful Puntledge River, and fostered by a couple who have spent time in the high Arctic, Raven’s Moon has established itself as an unlikely powerhouse in the cider business. Over 15 years in the business, the brand has become a local favourite and even added a line of organic “artisan” ciders.

Coastal Black
Black Creek
In the farm community of Black Creek in the shadow of Mount Washington, Coastal Black is more than apples. The sprawling former cattle farm features hundreds of acres of blueberries, corn, squash and pumpkins plus 50 colonies of bees. And yes, they have apples. Lots of them. A beautiful tasting room features crisp and dry apple ciders, and when you’re tired of cider they have some impressive wine offerings as a dessert.

Fossil Beach Farm
Hornby Island
Part of a proper cider tour involves panoramic views, and Fossil Beach Farm beats everyone in that department. Nestled on a point on famously beautiful Hornby Island, this spot makes “farm-based craft ciders.” The apples come from both an on-site orchard planted way back in 1921, and from around B.C. Specializing in local Pacific Northwest varieties, Fossil Beach prides itself on experimentation. The best part? You can only get it if you go there, and there is pretty darn special.

Must Stop Spots

Part 2

Central Island

Cobble Hill
On its 20-acre Cobble Hill farm, the folks at Merridale have been growing apples and turning them into delicious ciders for a long, long time. Like, way back in 1999. The same unique micro-climate that has recently made the Cowichan Valley into somewhat of a foodie hot spot is what makes Merridale’s apples so impressive. A long and slow-growing season means the cider specialists can deliver the bitter-sharp and bittersweet apples that are well-suited to cider. On top of all the cider, Merridale has a welcoming farm complete with a restaurant and distillery, and they are cool with kids and dogs.

Valley Cider
It’s a one-man show at Valley Cidery, and that’s a lot for a nine-cider operation. Bruce McKinlay planted how own trees here, and now gets downright creative with the fruits of his bounty. He aims for distinctive elixirs, including hop-infused, floral-infused, and any-damn-thing-infused varieties. Don’t worry, he does straight-up ciders too.

Gabriola Island
Heritage apples. 27 acres. Gabriola Island. It sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? It was until Keith and Marti MacKenzie made it a reality, clearing, tilling, and planting their land with over 25 varietals in 1000 trees. They base their ciders on “old fashioned East Coast recipes” and the short ferry ride from Nanaimo is worth the effort for the views alone.

Must Stop Spots

Part 3

Victoria & Saanich Peninsula

Tod Creek Cider
Pouring cider since 2014, Tod Creek began with small-batch flavours and is now producing upwards of 80,000 litres a year. Located in a beautifully restored barn near the stunningly beautiful Victoria secret of Prospect Lake, Tod Creek recently opened a tasting room and cider store, not to mention a growler station. They even make a triple-hopped craft cider for the IPA fans out there. Mmmmm, “Mala-hop”, it’s called.

Sea Cider
Whereas Merridale owns the crown as Van Isle’s Queen of Cider, Sea Cider is the rebellious princess gunning for the throne. A farm-based cidery on the Saanich Peninsula, Sea Cider boasts 10 acres, 1300 apple trees and—get this—50 varieties of heritage apples. Perhaps the coolest thing about Sea Cider—other than their cider, of course—is how much of a destination the property itself is. Views of Haro Strait, beautiful infrastructure, friendly staff. Plus, it’s certified organic and comes in beautiful bottles for takeaway.

Must Stop Spots

Part 4

Gulf Islands

Salt Spring Wild
Salt Spring Island
Much like every craft brewery’s fascination with post and beam construction, it seems like industry convention that every cider house must be based out of a renovated barn. Salt Spring Wild follows suit with a beautifully renovated horse barn next to a 1935 farmhouse. The tasting room is an old mule stall. Heritage apples and pears grow on the 5-acre property. It’s a pastoral throwback to Salt Spring Island’s quieter, wilder days.

Twin Island Cider
Pender Island
Twin Island Cider is a self-described “nano land-based cidery.” Nano means tiny, and to most foodies tiny means awesome. The team at Twin Cider stays on point by aiming for sustainable, small-run craft. They specialize in the Gulf Islands, picking pears and apples from 48 properties on Pender, Mayne, and Saturna islands. True terroir. True passion. Make your way by ferry to Pender from Schwartz Bay terminal in Sidney to get to this little gem.

Must Stop Spots

Raven’s Moon

4905 Darcy Rd, Courtenay, BC V9J 1R5

Coastal Black

2186 Endall Rd, Black Creek, BC V9J 1G8

Fossil Beach Farm

750 Savoie Rd, Hornby Island, BC V0R 1Z0

Ravenskill Orchards & Gabbies Premium Cider

1240 Coats Dr, Gabriola, BC V0R 1X4

Valley Cider

7661 Mays Rd, Duncan, BC V9L 6A8

Merridale Cidery & Distillery

1230 Merridale Rd, Cobble Hill, BC V0R 1L0

Tod Creek Cider

273 Prospect Lake Rd, Victoria, BC V9E 1J7

Sea Cider

2487 Mt St Michael Rd, Saanichton, BC V8M 1T7

Salt Spring Wild Cider

151 Sharp Rd, Salt Spring Island, BC V8K 2P6

Twin Island Cider

5601 Lupin Rd, Pender Island, BC V0N 2M1