Meet the Team

The Merridale family is as tight-knit as the community where we’re based. Because of the varied skills of each team member, our whole is greater than the sum of our parts. Here’s a little background on each of us.

Janet Docherty, Co-Owner

Born and raised in Vancouver, Janet has a Commerce degree and a background in accounting, and in entertainment, oddly enough.  She has also owned a construction company, and was a realtor. Janet has served on a number of boards, including those in agri-tourism, business, and wine and tourism. As if she’s not busy enough already with Merridale, Janet’s currently president of Tourism Cowichan and a director on the Tourism Victoria and Tourism Vancouver Island Boards. 

Rick Pipes, Co-Owner

Raised in Victoria, Rick is a third generation Vancouver Island entrepreneur. A practicing lawyer in Victoria for 25 years, Rick decided to trade law for the leisurely and laidback life of a country farmer (little did he know). His subsequent education in fermentation and distillation science took him from Washington State, to New England and the UK. Like Janet, Rick has served and continues to serve on a number of community-based boards. He is currently planning Merridale’s next venture in Victoria at Dockside.

Jason Child, General Manager

Jason, the eldest of the three children, grew up In Victoria on southern Vancouver Island. After completing high school, he apprenticed as an electrician before being convinced by Janet and Rick to join the family business. A ten-year veteran of the team, Jason began in sales and is now the General Manager.

Laurent Lefluent, Master Blender & Distiller

Meet Merridale’s Master Blender, Laurent Lafuente. Laurent is a Swiss-trained French Winemaker that we were lucky to have join us in 2012. Suffice to say Laurent’s blending and distilling experience is vast. In a past life, he oversaw R&D for a 50 million litre rum distillery in British Guyana.

Jane Butson, Food and Beverage Manager

Jane first joined Merridale as our venue and wedding coordinator. She was so amazing at taking care of the details that she now leads the team in the farmhouse which includes the Eatery, Lounge, Store and Weddings.

Production Team

Jeff Phillips leads the cellar team in the cidery and also assists in the distillery. Kevin Andrew works in sales and production, too - He’s that friendly face you see on the road in the Merridale Delivery Van. Relatively new members on the production team include Eric Mellish and Mike Lees.   

Kitchen Team

Meet Merridale’s lead in the kitchen, Ben Brown. We are thrilled to have his expertise in guiding the rest of team, John de Groot, Kimberly Fink, Jaquelle Stratton, and Ashley McMahon.

Administrative and Front of House Team

Central to keeping us all together is our head bean counter, Michael van Kesteren. If you visit us at the farm or call us to book an event, you will most likely see or hear Donna Wedge or Laurina Ross. They help us put the smile into everything we do here, amongst so many other important tasks.

During the busy season we have over 50 staff helping us at Merridale. We won’t name everyone here, but suffice to say it takes a large group of people to make cider, spirits and memories at Merridale! Whether our team members are working on the grounds, assisting with maintenance, greeting and serving you, or executing weddings or events, we are thankful for everyone that is part of our team. Find out how you can join the Merridale team here.