Our BC Cider Story
In 1998, while expecting our last child, Merek, we decided we wanted to work together in a joint business venture that would be fun and profitable. We were open to all possibilities, but we knew that we wanted to stay in BC and wanted the business to be something we would be passionate about, providing a healthy lifestyle for our family and us.
We were aware of the budding BC wine industry, and had heard that Merridale, a BC cider orchard, was for sale. On a weekend drive through the rolling pastures and past the dairy farms to view the property we fell in love with the rural scenic setting. Although we knew nothing about cider-making, we both appreciated fine food and drink. "Perfect," we said, "how hard can it be?"
Our Early BC Cider Farm
In March 2000, we purchased Merridale from its founder who had started it in 1990. Al had planted the cider apple trees in a perfect location, and had begun to establish a reputation for high quality BC cider. We rolled up our sleeves, and jumped in to commence what would become an on-going renovation project.
We embarked upon a tremendous learning curve about agriculture, cider-making, and Vancouver Island tourism. We began by cleaning up the property and focusing on quality control for the cider. We wanted Merridale to become a place that people wanted to visit, with cider they would be proud to pour. The cellar was about 1/3 of its current capacity, and the tasting area could barely hold 5 people. But we had a vision.
We built a new cider tasting room, so that we could start bringing in new cider tour groups. We outgrew that in a couple of years and then built our new Cider House in the summer of 2003. The old cider tasting room is now the lab, a much needed addition to ensure the quality of our product. Word spread of the educational and fun experience to be enjoyed along with the quality BC ciders at Merridale, as we focused on making ourselves a destination for both international tourists, as well as BC residents.