The Craft Cider Revolution

The Craft Cider Revolution

In the well-drained, loamy soils of South Georgian Bay, apple trees thrive. Since European settlers introduced the first trees in the 19th century, this ideal microclimate has helped produce some of the biggest yields in Ontario. The apple industry grew exponentially from the 1950s through the 1980s. But by the late 1990s, competition—imported fruit available all year around—began to take a toll.

Then came the craft cider revolution.

Craft or hard cider is not a new phenomenon. Many European settlers made “applejack,” a rudimentary home-distilled strong cider. Today, Ontario’s craft cider industry is anything but rudimentary. The Ontario Craft Cider Association reports that between 2012 and 2017, sales of cider rose from $1 million to $11 million. And local cideries use locally-grown fruit. The terroir—how the region’s unique terrain, soil and climate influence flavour—is central to many brands’ identity and consumer appeal.

Case in point: one of South Georgian Bay’s newer cideries, Grey & Gold Cider Company. This boutique organic operation not far from Thornbury grows 29 heritage apple varieties and bottles its award-winning small-batch ciders exclusively in glass. They ferment their Spruce of the Bruce cider with tips of spruce boughs foraged in the early spring. And they steep their Wildflower dry cider with chamomile and other wildflowers from their farm. How’s that for terroir?

Grey & Gold Cider Company bottle shop is open for tastings. Check greyandgoldcider.com for hours.

And find out which South Georgian Bay cideries are open for tastings and tours on the Apple Pie Trail website: applepietrail.ca/ciders

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