The weather is nicer, venues are welcoming back guests, and we could all use an excuse to comfortably explore some beautiful orchard backdrops. Follow along with us as we guide you on a scenic and sip-worthy tour of southern Vancouver Island’s cideries. Grab your designated driver and get started on this scenic itinerary.
If you’re starting from Victoria, Sea Cider’s picturesque estate orchard on the Saanich Peninsula is the perfect spot to kick-off your adventure. You pull up onto a gravel road and pass by rows of apple trees nestled on this hillside family orchard. Choose to be seated in one of their elegant and modern open-concept buildings, or outdoors on their covered deck or patio-style section on a sunny day.
The short flight is the best option if you want a small sample and flexibility in picking three ciders that suit you best, or opt for the long flight to get a pre-selected six ciders curated by the Sea Cider team. For those of you wanting snacks to go along with your ciders, choose from their locally crafted selection like their artisan charcuterie board. If you head there on a Friday during the summer, you can also take advantage of their “Foodie Friday” pop-ups featuring hot-to-order food from the likes of Indecent Risotto, Dead Beetz, and pizzas from Toque Catering. This venue stands out as the only one on the list with an ocean-view location and acts as an ideal place to host larger gatherings or events (when permitted). Since it is such a popular spot, make sure to book your tasting reservation early!
Safe bet: Kings & Spies Something different: Wassail
On a sunny day, we recommend heading to the next spot on your list by skipping the Malahat and taking the scenic 25 minute ferry from Brentwood Bay to Mill Bay.
Touted as BC’s oldest estate cidery, located in Cobble Hill, Merridale is a destination in its own right for many a tourist, historian, and craft beverage connoisseur alike. Their 20-acre orchard has many things to see other than apple trees and they have a free self-guided tour for you to fully immerse yourself in the picturesque property.
You can choose a flight that suits your cider philosophy. More of a traditionalist? Go for the Old World. Want something more modern? The New World flight is right for you. Or pick the “Your World” option and choose a combination of any four of their offerings. As this is also the only distillery on the list, if you want to take a break from cider, opt for their brandy or cocktail flight where you can try options like the Cowichan Pear Brandy. This is also the only place on the list with a full eatery offering all-day brunch and classic pub-style fare to accompany any tasting selection. If you would rather be lakeside, check out their newest summer location, Merridale at the lake, set to open in June located just a short distance away on vibrant Shawnigan Lake.
Safe bet: Cyser Something different: Mo’Moro
Located a few minutes North of Duncan’s centre, in an old dog training facility, this funky cidery is breaking all the rules and having fun while doing it. For so many reasons you do not want to skip out on this place. Possibly the highest on the list is getting the chance to chat directly with owner and master cider maker Bruce McKinlay where you will learn his philosophy on cider and get to appreciate his comedic,straight-shooter passion for the craft.
Valley Cider also has an impressive array of 16 (or more) cider options to choose from, not to mention, this is the only spot on the list where your designated driver can really feel like they are part of the action too. With so many high-sugar sodas on the market, owner Bruce created Modern Soda; sweetened only with apple juice, their nine flavours are all mostly the sister, non-alcoholic versions of Valley’s popular ciders. Enjoy this wine-style tasting of three pre-selected options in their welcoming tasting room with views of their valley property.
Safe bet: Wait-what? or Bon-dri Something different: Faeriessence
Although that concludes our official tour, soon enough there will be three more spots to add to the list, stay tuned for tasting room announcements and information on where to buy from these next cideries.
Located near Mosi bakery just off West Saanich Road, this is the closest cidery to downtown Victoria, and they officially started selling to the public on July 4th. Formerly Todd Creek Cidery, this orchard was purchased by four friends: Jillian, Nick, Cody, and Tamra using their initials to help form their new venture’s name: JUNCTION. This laid back, rustic orchard has big plans, and they are inspired by connecting the community. Get ready to soak in some sun off of their south-facing deck and cross your fingers that this bike- and family-friendly venue will also allow your four legged friends to join in on the fun. Just ask Roo, one of Junction’s honorary furry owners, who is jumping with joy at the Prospect of meeting you soon (see what I did there…?)
This picturesque addition to the Affinity Guesthouse property is located along a scenic estuary just a stone’s throw away from the historic waterfront community of Cowichan Bay. Nestled between the Cowichan Tribes Reserve, the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CRVD), and the District of North Cowichan, this agricultural land is also partly a conservation wetland governed by Ducks Unlimited. It’s no wonder that operator, farmer, cider maker, permit applicator, engagement guy (and, well, you get it…) Kieran Holdsworth, has been working towards realizing the Affinity Ciderhouse vision since 2017.
That realization seems very near with three inaugural ciders, the modern dry, heritage dry, and pome blend, ready to hit retailers and farmer’s markets as soon as they receive the green light.
Follow along to be the first to know when and where you can get your Affinity fix.
Anticipating an opening later this year, Victoria Cider Co is located on a five acre farm in North Saanich with over 40 varieties of apples and 2,000 trees that they have been nurturing over the past several years. Following along on instagram @victoriaciderco for updates.