One Craft Brewery, three Wineries and a Cidery call Salt Spring Island home. That alone is reason enough for me to love Salt Spring. The only thing missing from the portfolio of artisanal alcohol made on Salt Spring is distilled liquor and I am sure that will be remedied shortly. I’ve seen the signs all over the Island from restaurants proudly declaring they serve Salt Spring Island Cider so I think I should try it for myself, only I’m going straight to the source. Salt Spring Wild Cidery, here I come.
During my first visit to the Island in 2014, I toured Salt Spring Ales and the Wineries and found them to be excellent. On this visit, my number one objective is to visit Salt Spring Wild and sample the Ciders they are making. Located just 7 minutes North of Ganges Harbour on 151 Sharp Road it is good to check their hours to make sure the Cider House Tasting Room is open. As they say on the website, if the gate is open so are we.
Entering into their second season Salt Spring Wild Cider is already gaining a name for themselves. They sold out of their first-year run in only a couple of months so production has more than tripled for this season’s offering which is good news for more than just us Cider lovers. In true Salt Spring style the main ingredient, Apples, are sourced directly from their fellow neighbours on the island. If you have unwanted fruit, they will come, pick it and pay for it. Helping to grow the local Salt Spring economy is part of their business model and Salt Spring apples account for over 30% of their inventory. They just planted over 600 trees in their orchard so I expect that production will be increasing again and again.
The tasting room is intimate and rustic with a window into the production area so you can see the cider being made as you taste it.
I saddle up to the bar and try a flight for myself. If I were here in the Spring or Summer, I most certainly would take my flight of tasters out into the picnic area to enjoy. Stone sculptures dot the area so you can enjoy the views created by nature and by Salt Spring Wild co-owner Gerda Lattey.
My tasting flight consists of the Dry, Semi-Dry and Hopped Apricot Ciders. They also have a Pear, Plum, Wild Cherry and an Iced Apple available, but none at this moment that I can sample.
As a frequent sampler of Cider, I am pleasantly surprised to find that these Salt Spring Island Ciders do more than stand up to their larger commercial competitors they rise above. Perhaps it is the unique blend of organic heritage apples from Salt Spring that elevate the taste of these Ciders to beyond the bland ordinary I come to expect. I love them. In particular, the Semi-Dry is my favourite with a touch of sweetness to balance the crispness.
It is no surprise that I pick up a couple of bottles for myself to enjoy when I get back to Vancouver. The easiest place to buy Salt Spring Wild is at the cidery on Salt Spring, but there are a few places in Victoria, Vancouver and Campbell River that sell it if you are up for a Cider Hunt.
I 100% recommend that you include Salt Spring Wild Cider to your tour of Salt Spring Island. Make a day of it and visit the Wineries, Brewery and finish with a dry crisp Apple Cider made with apples picked from around the Island. You’ll thank me if you do.