Meet the Family
Born and raised in Vancouver by adoptive parents, Janet's father was an accountant. While she absorbed those bean counting tendencies well, they were tempered by Janet's love for performing which developed while doing a variety show on CBC from the age of 9 to 17. After travelling and a few years in the CGA program, Janet balanced raising children while attending university and working. She graduated from UBC with a commerce degree, and worked in the construction and real estate industry before meeting the love of her life, Rick Pipes. Mother of three children -- Jason, Michelle and Merek -- and now an owner/operator of a growing business, she believes that Merridale's success is best achieved by promoting the growth of the community as a whole and then distinguishing Merridale within it.
To that end, Janet has volunteered as a director of the South Island Direct Farm Marketing Association (DFMA) and has served as Secretary, President and Marketing Chair for the Wine Islands Vintner's Association (WIVA). She has volunteered thousands of hours for the organization of the fall wine festivals and has worked closely with Island Tourism Associations and Chambers to increase the growth of wine and culinary tourism on Vancouver and neighbouring islands.
More recently, Janet has been president of the BC Agri-tourism Alliance, a director of South Cowichan Chamber of Commerce, director of Cowichan Tourism and has been awarded Rural Woman of the Year by the Cowichan Valley Chapter. In 2005, the BC Agricultural Council named Merridale BC's Best Open Farm. Janet is dedicated to continuing to keep the community working together, growing the entire economic base.
Raised in Victoria, Rick's is the third generation of his family to be involved in local business on Vancouver Island. Active in sports as a child before attending UBC to obtain a Bachelor of Commerce, he then returned to the University of Victoria to obtain his law degree in 1984. Rick has practised law in Victoria since 1985. Years later, he met Janet, the love of his life and her two children. They had a child together and decided to find a lifestyle that would allow them to work together and be nearer to their children.
In March of 2000, they bought Merridale and Rick began to learn the art and the science of cider making. He has been educated in fermentation science relating to cider in Washington state and England, and has studied distillation science in New England. Rick enjoys a challenge and the ability to express his creativity through the cider. He believes that the art of cider making is expressed through a collage of quality fruit.
He has served as a director of Victoria Minor Hockey Association, the Garth Homer Centre, the Island Farmers Alliance, South Vancouver Island Direct Farmers Association, BC Food Processors, and numerous other committees relating to agriculture.
The challenges of Merridale Ciderworks and his law practise in Victoria are enhanced by the opportunity to share these experiences with his family.
If you're looking for Rick, he'll likely be found in the cellar wearing his gum boots, out playing on his tractor in the cider orchard, or in the Brandy House experimenting with the still.
Proud to be a family business, we have three children that all contribute to the business: Jason, Michelle and Merek.
Jason is the oldest of our three children. He grew up on Vancouver Island in Victoria, until grade eleven when he made the move to the Cowichan Valley with the family. After completing high school, he apprenticed as an electrician before deciding he wanted a career in sales and to be an integral part of the family business. This was when he came to work at Merridale full time as our sales representative. He has been working here for the past 5 years now and takes care of all of the outside sales at pubs, restaurants and private liquor stores on both Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland. He currently lives in Colwood with his fiancee Holly and his puppy, Toby.
Michelle, our middle child grew up in Vancouver Island as well. When the family moved to the Cowichan Valley she attended a local boarding school, Shawnigan Lake School. Upon graduation, she spent her first year at University of Toronto. She realized quite quickly, however, that the West Coast was her home and transfered to the University of British Columbia. Now a student in the Sauder Business School.
Merek our youngest is still growing up on Vancouver Island and is about to enter Brentwood College. Since child labour is frowned upon, Merek spends his spare time on the ice rink playing hockey. Although still too young to work, he has been known to carry a plate of baked items around the bistro while welcoming guests.
The family members you will see the most roaming the property are our dogs. We have two resident farm dogs, Stella and Brit. Brit is a very large fluffy white dog that saunters around the ciderhouse in search of love and food. She is a rescue dog so we don't know her exact breed, but we know she has Great Pyrenesse and Malemute. You will be sure to find her in one of three spots: the main path greeting guests, the patio (hoping guests will drop some food) and the kitchen door (hoping the chefs might have some scraps). In her old age she is getting slow, but she loves any attention you want to give her! Stella is a cross between a border collie and a chow. You will see this little black dog sprinting around the orchard in true border collie fashion, but she loves to greet customers as well. If you are bringing your dog to the property please keep them on a leash, as we welcome them to visit, but keep in mind it is our dogs home.