Our Farm

Our History

Even if you’ve never visited the Cowichan Valley, you may already be familiar with the name Merridale. Set in a picturesque orchard in rural Cobble Hill, Merridale has become a Cowichan institution, known primarily for our wide selection of artisanal, made-on-the-premises ciders and more recently, spirits. How the company rose to where it is today is an interesting story, or at least we think so. 

Our farm was planted by Al Piggot in the early 1980s. In fact, Merridale Ciderworks obtained one of the first estate winery licenses on Vancouver Island in 1990. The growth of Merridale as a destination, however, began in 1999 when Janet Docherty and Rick Pipes purchased the property. They started with a little renovation to the tasting room while Rick travelled to the US and the UK to learn everything he could about the science of distilling and fermenting. The building and addition of memorable experiences has not stopped since. Merridale at the farm is now home to an al fresco eatery, lounge, store, brick oven bakery, cidery, distillery, and vinegar shack.  Further landscaping of the property also allowed for the addition of a pond, gazebo and two well-appointed yurts, creating a new reason to visit Merridale: weddings.

To say the least, it’s been an eventful two decades at Merridale and the team is very proud of how everything has turned out. Equal to the quality of the products are the people who work at Merridale. From the administrative staff and front of house team, to the people who work in the cidery, orchard and distillery, we’re an extended family that feels blessed to call Cowichan home.

Our Farming Practices

For more than 30 years now, and well before “artisanal” became de rigueur, Merridale has remained ahead of the curve when it comes to farming practices. Located on just 20 acres, we will always be a boutique producer and as such, we’re able to give each of our trees extra care and attention. We are proud that our practices are consciously aligned with our core values. We are also proud to show off our farm and orchard. We encourage you to join us for the day, or just a long leisurely stroll. We have self-guided tours of our cellar, orchard walks, and a fun entertaining hunt for the kids

In our opinion, you need world-class fruit to make a world-class beverage! So our orchards were planted with this in mind. “Sustainability” is another fashionable term that isn’t just a buzzword here. At Merridale we make a point of conserving water by not watering in the hottest months and we never use herbicides or pesticides – just earth-friendly fertilizers. If you see the odd bee buzzing about here, don’t worry, they’re with us and they’re friendly. We encourage these wild local pollinators by providing homes for them throughout the orchard. Due to all of our efforts to remain artisanal and sustainable, it made sense to partner with the BC chapter of Économusée, an international organization that encourages artisans and farmers, and promotes sustainable communities.

We have taken scion and bud wood from our trees and planted on other orchards, too. We work with other like-minded farmers in the Cowichan region. This allows us to control the production of our apples and has allowed us to expand our production steadily over the past 20 years. We are currently in the planning stages of planting another 10,000 trees in a prime growing region in the Southern Similkameen to ensure a steady supply for another 20 years. We believe in the mantra that it takes quality fruit to make quality cider and spirits.

Coming Soon: Merridale at Dockside

I don't think we could possibly say enough great things about Merridale Cidery and the wonderful staff who work there. The venue was beautiful, and everything from the lush greenery to the blooming orchard made for such a magical stay. We loved their delicious menu along with homemade orchard fruit pies and scrumptious ciders! 

We absolutely recommend staying the night in the yurt. It was the perfect end to an even more perfect day, and breakfast served the next morning was just the icing on the cake!

Ashley K

Whenever we have friends visiting from out of town in the summer, we always include a visit to Merridale cidery. The tasting room is also a great store to pick up interesting items for the "foodie" on your list. Sunday night is extra special because they serve wood fired pizza along with live music. It is a must see spot!

Alan S

Every time we vacation on Vancouver Island we make a point to stop for the cider tasting at Merridale, the cider is always crisp and the self-guided tour is always a great way to get into the cider sampling mood.

Blurple P

Thank you to everyone at Merridale for your professional and caring catering for our family. Details were taken care of so the family did not have to think about them, you were sensitive to anything that needed to be handled, and you were respectful and accommodating of every detail we needed to be just so. Your “back yard” was private and lovely - the tents you erected for us gave us the privacy and shelter we needed for this celebration of a local lady’s life. Thank you

Holly C

The Yurts are stunning....they are beautifully decorated and so magical.....our only regret was not staying two nights! I would recommend to anyone who wants luxury with a twist....plus the restaurant serves lovely food......

Vicky