Celebrate B.C. cider week

Mid-August is a perfect time to celebrate all things cider. It’s hot outside, you need something refreshing, bubbly, and fruity.

B.C.’s local cider producers, along with the NorthWest Cider Association, have an adapted version of B.C. Cider Week to cider lovers, full of virtual, curbside, and socially distanced events. The “week” began on Aug. 6, and runs until Aug. 16.

There is plenty of time left to enjoy safe cidering with these suggestions from the organizers:

  • Pair your takeout dinner with a curbside cider pick up
  • Try pairing cheeses and ciders at home
  • Attend an online cider cocktail class or cider maker interview
  • Find a cider trail here and plan a safe visit.

There are many types of cider to choose from, generally from cider apples that, when fermented, can spark the same discussions we may have about wine.

  • Do you detect tannin?
  • Is it dry, semi-dry, or sweet? How would you describe the aromas, colour, body, mouthfeel, and balance of flavours?
  • Is it bittersweet or bittersharp? These two British terms will surely impress your local cider artist.

Ciders also come in a variety of sizes, from cans all the way to magnums for celebratory occasions instead sparkling wine, and can be infused or flavoured with other fruits, tea, coffee, chocolate, you name it. Pears, cherries, peaches and even pineapples can be turned into ciders.

With all of these options, what is farm-crafted cider, the drink we are celebrating, according to the B.C. Cider Association?

  • It must be at least 95% juice content not from concentrate
  • Not diluted with water
  • Made in small batches by cider artisans with a long fermentation
  • Should be made on the same farm where the apples are grown.

Other than enjoying it on a hot day, here are some pairing suggestions.

Just about any good pork sausage, roast pork dish, or pulled pork will pair well with cider. Think about pork chops and applesauce, only enjoy the apples as a drink.

Ask for an English-style cider, then pair it with some English cheeses such as cheddar, a crumbly Cheshire cheese, or a Lancashire. Try goat cheese infused or topped with cranberries, roasted nuts, or your favourite herb on top of a savoury cracker. The tang of the goat cheese pairs with the tang of a cider, while the cider cuts through the fattiness.

Spicy Asian dishes or curries pair well with drier ciders.

But if you wish for something sweeter, ciders with some sweetness are delightful with fruit salad or fruit crumbles, and it’s certainly the season for it.

Find B.C. Cider Week events at https://www.facebook.com/nwcider/https://www.bcciderweek.org/

Sip B.C. this long weekend

The B.C. Day long weekend is almost here, if you can believe it. That means it’s a perfect weekend to celebrate the wines, beers, ciders, and spirits of our province.

We produce some superb sips, and the selections below are some favourite B.C. bottles and cans generally available from JAK’s Beer, Wine, Spirits shops – including an exclusive wine -- around the province.

Might make a fine B.C. box to safely share with pals in your bubble.

White wine: Synchromesh Riesling 2019

Every year, the wines from this small producer in Okanagan Falls sell out quickly and early, and you may need to move fast on this one, an exclusive to JAK’s.

The grapes from four vineyards go into this sharp, but very slightly off-dry Riesling. Granny Smith apple and pear notes, this is a refreshing way to start the long weekend with some seafood-themed snacks on the patio.

Craft Beer: Slackwater Brewing Tight Lines Helles Lager

One of the newer breweries in downtown Penticton, Slackwater is part of a growing community putting the Okanagan on the map of must-visit spots to visit for a pint.

It's a dry lager, crisp and light with some brioche notes hidden on the back palate. Why not make this your long weekend Saturday morning breakfast brew?

Spirit: Sherigham Distillery Seaside Gin

Named the best contemporary gin at World Gin Awards, this spirit from Vancouver Island will remind you of trips to the Pacific Ocean.

The botanicals come from the land and the sea, it’s elegant and clean, with notes of a salty wave washing over a lemon tree. Simply sip it with a squeeze of citrus or create a cocktail for happy hour.

Red Wine: Moraine Pinot Noir 2018

Get ready for your Saturday or Sunday night barbecue with this carefully crafted Pinot. It’s “very Naramata” in its expression of floral notes mixed with freshly picked cherries on the nose, lightly oaked and toasty with light tannins.

Grill some portobello mushrooms for veggie burgers topped with a creamy aioli, prep some pork skewers, or pick up pulled pork mac and cheese from a local restaurant.

Cider: Nomad Traditional Dry

The bottle is reminiscent of the stubbies of yesteryear, but at 500ml, big enough to share. Crafted with minimal intervention, it pays homage to English ciders. It's nice and dry with crisp apple notes; consider this your palate cleanser after a weekend of indulgence.

Find a JAK’s near you: https://www.jaks.com/


July 30, Naramata: Join Joy Road Catering at Terravista Vineyards for a multi-course dinner.

Aug 1-2, Kelowna: Head to Prospera Place for a drive-thru food truck festival.

Through Aug. 3, Oliver: The Wienery food truck will be at Bartier Bros winery on Saturdays and Sundays.

Aug 6, Summerland: Dirty Laundry hosts a lobster dinner (reservation for parties of six).

Aug 9, Kelowna: Grizzli Winery hosts an outdoor summer market.

July to September, Kelowna: CedarCreek Winery hosts its Winery of the Year Dinner Series on select dates.    

Virtual tastings here to stay?

If businesses have had a teaching moment from the last few months, it’s understanding the importance of planning and pivoting.

Or planning to pivot the next time something like a pandemic comes along.

Those in the culinary and libations worlds had to quickly switch to take out, delivery, and free shipping, as a start. Many in the drinks sector started jumping on Zoom for virtual tastings, thanks to the lack of in-person experiences until recently.

Assuming that we are a long way from escaping this “covidisruption” and anticipating further change in 2020, now is the time to plan to make these virtual tastings part of an overall strategy.

Heck, why not do these when there’s a snowstorm, or a road closure, or something else less than a pandemic?

Some thoughts on how to make these entertaining, engaging, even exciting.

Get a microphone

You don’t need something too fancy, but if you’ve run tasting webinars or live streams and the sound is bad, all everyone can think of is…is the sound this bad for everyone?

Do a test run with your device to see if it’s good enough. If not, invest a Bluetooth lapel mic to sync with your device. Remember to sanitize it after each use.

Avoid bad lighting

Sure, having people join you virtually in your barrel room, production area, or cavernous brewery might look impressive, but the lighting is not made for video. Plus, it’s an echo chamber.

Natural light is best – outdoors or by a window, or ask a photographer friend of you can borrow a light or for tips to use your space better.

Make it an invite-only event

Wine club, growler club, VIP purchasers or fans – give them an exclusive invite for a pre-release reveal of a new product.

They get the password to attend, so make it special, and just like a “real” event, ponder a theme, dress code, an award for best interruption by a pet, maybe an emcee.

And give attendees lead time to buy your products and get an outfit together.

Pace yourself

To make these special and have people salivating to join, consider how many times you are going to go virtual. Just because you can Facebook or Instagram live everyday, that doesn’t mean you should.

Partner up

Get together with a local eatery or food producer and make it a package deal.

Send recipes from a restaurant for attendees to try out or prepare for your virtual event to discuss together

Have a caterer prepare a mini-charcuterie board to be delivered to your tasters, have a pizza created for pairing with your brewery or cidery’s new product

Suggest locally-made syrups for an online cocktail class.

Above all, be prepared to make it fun and unique. But, be prepared.


As events slowly return, be sure to read safety protocols and event policies when booking, as well as descriptions closely as some may be in-person, virtual, or a hybrid experience.

Sundays, through Aug. 23, Kelowna: House of Rose hosts Smooth Sunday Sounds from 1:30-4 p.m. Guests are requested to limit visits to one hour. https://www.houseofrose.ca/

July 17, Okanagan Falls: Noble Ridge hosts its annual Vine Dining event with Backyard Farms. https://www.nobleridge.com/News-Events/Events

July 25, Naramata: Join Joy Road Catering and La Petite Abeille Cider for a multi-course dinner at Blue Bee Orchard.

July to September, Kelowna: CedarCreek Winery hosts its Winery of the Year Dinner Series on select dates.

Through Aug. 3, Oliver: The Wienery food truck will be at Bartier Bros winery on Saturdays and Sundays.


Canada Day takeout treats

Every Wednesday is #takeoutday across Canada, an initiative to help support restaurants during these unpredictable times. Fittingly, today being Canada Day, the theme this week is Canadian Farmer Day.

If there was ever a time to support local, it’s now. Seek out ways to buy from Okanagan producers by looking for labels showcasing local, the Buy BC logo, or looking for menu items that identify a farm or supplier in your region.

Your new favourite takeout spot may be taking a much-deserved day off on July 1, but why not make the weekend patriotic? Or the whole month of July? There are many ways to celebrate – not just returning to a local bistro, but maybe taking ingredients home to prepare.

Home delivery of fresh produce has taken off (tip, look for CSA – Community Supported Agriculture), with new options popping up alongside boxed deliveries that have been established for a while:

  • Plot Twist Farms, Naramata: weekly boxes of local veggies, with add-ons such as soups from BRODO, premade meal from Poplar Grove, and wine from Terravista. 
  • Unearthed Organics, Kelowna: get a personalized selection by creating an account, of microgreens, herbs, veggies, tree fruits, and more. 
  • Harker’s Organics, Cawston: one-time or subscription boxes of organic fruits and veggies, including a keto option, plus cider (new 100 calorie, infused ciders were just released), and wine boxes. 
  • Localmotive, Summerland: currently they may be at capacity for new subscribers, but if you can’t join the delivery service, visit their low-waste market in Penticton

There are options to either pick up a gourmet meal or have it delivered, with minimal preparation – just heating and plating, with local ingredients taking up the plate:

  • BRODO Kitchen, Penticton: new “date night” dinners are posted on their social media each week; call or email by 4 p.m. Thursday to order, pick up on Friday. 
  • Joy Road, South Okanagan: known for their al fresco dinners, you can order a beautifully arranged long table dinner box (more on this in a future column), paired with wine. 
  • Valley Direct Foods, delivery: Valley Direct has a wide delivery area and a vast selection of anything and everything from vegan cheeses to game meat to baked goods, with items from small producers. 
  • Summerhill Pyramid Winery, Kelowna: takeout organic dinners, with cuisine themes, plus frozen entrees, fresh salads, and wine and local spirits are available. 

However you enjoy Canada Day, hopefully you can source a sweet treat. Perhaps a patriotic strawberry and vanilla ice cream paleta from Nummerland


As events slowly return, be sure to read safety protocols and event policies when booking, as well as descriptions closely as some may be in-person, virtual, or a hybrid experience.

Sundays, through Aug. 23, Kelowna: House of Rose hosts Smooth Sunday Sounds from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Guests are requested to limit visits to one hour.

July 2, Penticton: Time Winery hosts live music with performer Ari Neufeld. 

July 9, Summerland: Joy Road heads to Lightning Rock Winery for Al Fresco dining. 

July 17, Okanagan Falls: Noble Ridge hosts its annual Vine Dining event with Backyard Farms. 

More Okanagan Taste articles

About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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