Many people ask us what’s the secret to making world class cider. The answer involves a number of factors, including our terroire, our fruit, our processes and of course, our passion.
Like that of the renowned cider regions in Europe, at Merridale, we are blessed with the perfect combination of climate, aspect and soil conditions to grow premium cider fruit. Merridale’s location was picked for just these reasons. Our aspect at the top of a gentle hill combined with the long slow growing season of the Cowichan give us one of the longest periods of time between last frost in the Spring and first frost in the Fall.
Like our terroir, the bittersharp and bittersweet apples we grow have a European connection. The varieties we use for cider have been proven for centuries in England, France, and Germany. These include Tremlett’s Bitter, Michelin, Yarlington Mill, Dabinett, Chisel Jersey, Kermerien, Julienne, Judaine, Frequin Rouge and Hauxapfel. We also have two rows of Jonagold apples, the only dessert apples in the orchard.
All of our ciders are made from 100% pure juice and only the first pressing is used. We don’t add water or re-press the apples to increase the yield because we believe this compromises the flavour. Being purists, we don’t use concentrates, add chemicals at bottling, flash pasteurize, or fine filter our juice. We ferment our juice slowly and naturally to delicately bring out all of the fruit’s flavour.
Because our ciders are living products containing active yeast cells, our unpasteurized ciders must be kept refrigerated during shipping and storage so that they do not re-ferment. We chose to bottle our unpasteurized ciders in plastic after much consideration of freshness, safety, and the environmental impacts. In addition to being a safer option, the plastic bottle actually has a much smaller carbon footprint than the glass version.
However, after a decade of trying different pasteurizing methods and recipes, we finally created something we are proud of. We found that the secret to maintaining optimum flavour and colour is a long slow heating process. This kills the bacteria but leaves the colour intact. If you see our cider in a glass bottle, that means we are confident the cider inside is safe to be left unrefrigerated and that it is another bottle that Merridale is proud to offer to you!
No description of Merridale’s cider would be complete without mentioning our passion. From the way we grow and handle our fruit, to our fermentations, packaging and customer care, we really do live and breathe the cider business. The way we see it: if there’s a holy grail, it’s filled with the perfect cider – and we never stop in our quest to attain it.