The Naramata Cider Company is making some magic. Miranda and Del Halladay have found a way to distill the essence of summer in this special part of Canada’s Okanagan Valley into a refreshing, sparkling drink best sipped resting in a hammock.
The couple who founded Elephant Island Winery in 1999 have been trialling cider since 2005 and felt ready to open the sister company in 2014 to get in on the ground floor of an exploding craft cider movement. The Naramata Cider Company is the first cidery on the Naramata Bench in British Columbia, so well known for its many wonderful wineries.
“Our craft ciders offer a richer, more diverse experience for visitors to the area,” says Miranda. “It allows us to create something else great from what we grow here. When you look down on Naramata you see a quilt made up of vineyards and orchards with all the pieces weaving into one another. We have added another agricultural element to that tapestry.”
She says the Naramata Cider Company is perfect fit with Naramata’s special status as a member community of Cittaslow International. Born from the slow food movement, Cittaslow’s main goal is to promote the philosophy of Slow Food to local communities and governments, applying the concepts of eco-gastronomy to everyday life.
Made from either apples or pears, it tastes lovely. As I’m not a tasting expert, I’ll defer to someone who is. The Vancouver Sun’s noted wine critic Anthony Gismondi describes the Naramata Cider Company’s Dry Apple Cider Rest Easy as: “Effervescent with spicy, ginger, light floral, grassy cooked apple aromas. Dry, light, fresh style with good bubbles. Flavours are light with green apple and grass with a bit of lees. Elegant, but very simple…” He had me at effervescent.
Crushed, pressed and bottled in Naramata, the company produces dry pear cider, dry apple cider and cider maker’s (Del) select which was a limited production of apple meets blackberry this past season. Production is growing from 7,000 litres in June of 2015 to 20,000 litres beginning this April.
Some of those litres will be sold in single-serve bottles this year in addition to their current 750 ml bottles and others in a new type of recyclable keg made by Petainer.
There are now about 25 licensed producers of cider and apple wine in British Columbia and half have been licensed in the past two years. What’s the big deal? It’s all about the craft that is going into making them, says Miranda. Gone are the days of sweet, syrupy “alcopop” so-call ciders that are made from concentrate with added sugar and artificial flavours. According to noted wine writer and critic John Schreiner, so much care goes into making these new craft ciders that they are as complex as wine. An added benefit is cider’s moderate alcohol content of seven per cent and the fact that they are gluten-free.
Miranda says the cider’s branding is a fun way to tell the story of Naramata.
For example, we have a peacock that calls Naramata Village home. “We love it…especially when it’s chasing the blue recycling truck down Robinson. Another reason to slow down and appreciate the joy.”