When you get to know Bruce Mckinlay you will learn two things very quickly. One, his vision for Valley Cider is very small, and two, he has very big ideas about what cider could be.
Valley Cider is a cidery he built in the Cowichan Valley starting in 2016. The world of flavour produced at Valley Cider, on the other hand, is expansive. Bruce makes unconventional cider and he is on a quest to get you to try something new.
Valley Cider was built to be a one-man show from the very beginning, adding one indispensable staff person as word spread. Bruce says he “Started with a plan to stay small, so I can stay true to my values. Keeping the operation small makes it easy to maintain authenticity and be honest with people.” He says he knows where everything comes from and everything that goes into the cider he produces, sourcing locally whenever possible.
“Keeping the operation small makes it easy to maintain authenticity and be honest with people.”
In 2016 they broke ground for an orchard at the cidery, which will eventually produce the majority of apples needed. This past fall he was able to use fruit from that orchard for the first time. The remainder of the fruit comes other Cowichan orchards, a family orchard in the South Okanagan, and from a gleaning program run by a local charitable organization dedicated to food security in the valley.
Valley Cider is focused on moving past fixed ideas of what heritage or craft cider should be. Bruce is interested in developing new and exciting cider flavours. He has adopted methods and techniques used by natural winemakers, gin producers, and craft brewers. He has also partnered with his Vancouver Island neighbours to make interesting hybrids. Valley Cider has released hopped ciders, ciders that taste like gin, and at least one that starts encroaching on wine.
In keeping with his smaller is better ethos, everything is packaged in small single serving bottles. The small package size makes it easy and affordable to try something new. We suggest picking up a couple of different bottles and sharing one with a friend.
Crisp, dry, light and sparkling - just a hint of apple.
Slightly off dry cider with great fruit flavour and aromatic hops.
If cider were a bouquet of flowers, this would be it. Rose petal, lavender, and damiana make for a well-balanced floral and fruity cider.