Mamit Lake family produces traditional cider
The idea literally came “from outta nowhere.”
Kate Garthwaite had the notion to make a small batch of cider in her small Kitsilano kitchen. Though her first attempt was a flop, the idea began to ferment and she enrolled in a week-long cider making course at the University of Washington.
From there, Kate bought a small apple press and made her first successful batch of cider with her father, Gord Garthwaite, using dessert apples and some crabapples from their neighbour’s trees.
A sip from this cider lured Kate’s sister Theresa Pedersen, and the seeds of this family’s cider dream were sown.
While Theresa and Gord enrolled in the same cider making course, Kate went to England where she apprenticed under a well-known craft cider maker in the country that produces 50 per cent of the world’s cider.
When she returned, they turned a hayfield into an orchard and a barn into a ciderhouse at the Garthwaite family ranch near Mamit Lake and the Left Field Cider Company was born.
The Garthwaites officially launched their cider several weeks ago after a successful debut at the 2012 Okanagan Fest-of-Ale in April where Left Field Cider was awarded Best Beverage.
Blending English and French cider varieties with B.C. dessert apples, Left Field Cider produces a traditional English-style cider that follows the ‘Real’ cider movement. Made from fresh pressed apples without artificial sweeteners or flavourings, Real cider must contain at least 85 per cent juice. Unlike commercial cider, Real cider highlights the natural characteristics of the apple, says Theresa.
“There is a growing movement in Washington to make full juice cider and it’s creeping up into B.C.,” she said. “Besides Left Field Cider, there are a few craft cideries on the Island and one in Oliver.”
After three generations in the ranching business, the family jokes that the recent venture into cider making really did come out of left field. After all, people expect cider from the Okanagan, not necessarily from ranching country, but Theresa says the local climate works for apples.
“They can even grow apples in Saskatchewan,” she says with a smile. “Apples can grow in colder climates and at higher altitudes too.”
The whole family has embraced Kate’s cider dream and as they do when it comes time for branding at the ranch, they have all lent a hand.
In April 2011, they planted the orchard and in September they pressed the apples. Their own trees had already yielded some fruit but they purchased most of the apples for their first production year from Keremeos, B.C.
After allowing the apple juice to ferment for about a month and a half, they stored it to mature until March when they began the bottling process.
According to Theresa, Left Field Cider produced about 9,000 litres of cider this year, which they are marketing and distributing in the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan. Locally, the cider which comes in two varieties — a Big Dry and a Little Dry — can be purchased at the cidery on Mamit Lake Road, though several local restaurants have started stocking it including The Grand Pub and Grill.
“It’s been a really cool project to be involved with and to be well received so far has been great,” said Theresa, adding that the best part has been doing business with her family.
The Left Field Co. tasting room is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or by appointment.
For more information visit www.leftfieldcider.com.