Like so many tourism businesses on Vancouver Island, Merridale Cidery & Distillery began with a desire to leave city living behind and return to the simplicity of country life. Janet Docherty and Rick Pipes had accomplished quite a bit in their professional lives when the inspiration to start a cidery struck. At the time there was very little by way of locally grown cider and they spotted a niche that was needing to be filled. They purchased property in the Cowichan Valley, considered by many to be the bread basket of Vancouver Island and got down to work.
Merridale Distillery Building
Rick put his education in fermentation and distillation to work, first with creating cider and then a few years later expanding to gin, brandy and even vodka. In fact, in 2013 they became the first craft distillery certified in BC. But it wasn’t just agriculture that these two had in mind. They understood the importance of creating an experience for their customers that went beyond their product. They wanted to explore the full potential of their venture, and share Merridale as a whole with their costomers.
The Farmhouse Eatery with performer Dylan Stone
They made connections with the local tourism industry and opened their property up to tours and special events. They built a restaurant, gift shop, tasting room, and most surprising of all, set up two luxury yurts on the property that can be rented by guests. Today, Janet and Rick sit on several tourism-related boards on Vancouver Island, assisting in development of the tourism industry.
One of two luxury yurts that can be rented
Thinking about taking a trip to Merridale Cidery? Why not try our Taste of Cowichan tour!
We started a beer of the month post in July, but then all the great local Vancouver Island wine got jealous. So here we go with Wine of the Month! We have so much wonderful wine here on Vancouver Island that many people don’t even realize we have. Hopefully we can help bring to light some of the delicious, approachable wine that we have to offer so that next time you’re in the liquor store or wine shop you feel confident to branch out and try something new.
Our first wine of the month just happens to be perfect for summer patio sipping on a beautiful August afternoon or even for pairing with a nice barbecue dinner. It also happens to be a rosé. Now don’t worry, I know that years of sweet, syrupy white zinfandels have scarred many human beings along the way. This should not be a reason for you to stay away from rosés! Most Vancouver Island rosés are crisp and dry wines that have amazing notes of strawberries or cranberries. Very easy drinking and approachable, yet all sorts of complex flavours coming through.
Unsworth Vineyards produces one of my favourite rosés anywhere and to me is a perfect expression of the wines we can consistently create right here on Vancouver Island. Theirs is a provencal style rosé that has a beautiful colour created by leaving the wine on the skins for just enough time to extract a bit of colour from the pinot noir grapes they use to make it. Pairs beautifully with cheese, grilled fish, or just good friends on the patio. Enjoy!
Spring time to some means flowers blooming, trees waking up from their long winter naps, and the return of warmer weather. To me, it means one very exciting thing: New wines to try!
Now that we are just getting our first taste of this year’s wines, I wanted to do a quick post about some of my favourite releases from 2015. In no way am I a professional at judging wines nor do I have a broad knowledge of all there is to know about wine. With that said, I do know more than the average person about British Columbia wines, and more than most about Vancouver Island wines.
You see, to make sure that everybody I take on a tour gets a chance to taste the best that Vancouver Island has to offer, I have to do a lot of painstaking research. I have to drive up and down the island Read More
Vancouver Island is a place to visit for people of all ages. Join Soren as he tells us about some of his amazing adventures right here on Vancouver Island!
This month I got to spend some time at the Teafarm! I love Teafarm for so many reasons!
I thought tea came from the cupboard but apparently it comes from a farm! But if you visit the tea farm in Cowichan you’ll learn that tea actually grows on a bush and then the farmers turn it into nice smelling tea by plucking and drying it!
There was a list of all the teas and we choose one to try. The nice people at the tea farm brought us a teapot and special cups to drink from. My cup was small, just the right size for me to sip from. The tea was much better than drinking water from my sippy cup – it was warm and Read More