SUSAN MCIVER Theresa Pedersen labels a batch of Left Field cider bottled by Kate Garthwaite, right.
diversify my income and work with marvellous people,” said Billy Boerboom of Summerland
Left Field also buys cider apples from Worrenberg Farms in Keremeos. “We’re really happy to support orchardists,” Kate said. “Being from a primary agricultural producing background, we feel strongly that farmers should get good returns.” Commercial production started in 2011 with 7,600 litres which sold out in five months.
The next year 16,700 litres were sold in 10 months and the 28, 500 litres made in 2013 are flying off the shelves. Kate anticipates a production of close to 45,000 litres for 2014.
Judging customer demand is one of the challenges of the rapidly growing business, Theresa explained. Left Field’s flagship products, Big Dry and Little Dry sparkling cider, are offered in 500 ml bottles.
Last year, Left Field produced a small batch of Cidermaker’s Select, a very dry still cider meant for being consumer with food. This year’s Select will be fermented in bourbon barrels to yield a smoky flavour.
“It’s common in the UK to use spirit barrels,” Kate said.
Following the official launch at the 2012 Okanagan Fest-of-Ale where Left Field won the Best Beverage Award, Kate and Theresa began distributing their cider.
Today, over 80 outlets in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, close to 30 in the Thompson/Okanagan and more than 30 in Alberta carry Left Field cider.
“We’re now using distributors in Alberta and on the Island. For the closer areas we continue to load up our van
every two weeks and do personal deliveries,” Theresa said.
She and Kate along with other cider makers are convinced a cider boom is underway.
Their optimism is fuelled by cider being the fastest growing segment of the North American alcoholic beverage industry and the increasing consumer demand for healthy local products. “We see ourselves working together with other craft cider makers to make a vibrant cider culture,” Kate said. The sisters think there is a real opportunity to educate consumers about ‘real cider’ and what makes it so special. For them ‘real cider’ is made from fermented apples, not fruit juice concentrate and artificial flavours. “All of our ciders are made from blending English and French cider apple varieties with dessert apples grown in BC,” Kate explained.
Cider apples typically are higher in tannins than eating apples.
Tannins give a full-bodied flavour and can add both bitterness and astringency to cider.
The family tries to do as much of the work at Left Field as possible themselves. “Kate is more production oriented while I do more of the marketing and sales. Debbie does the bookkeeping and helps in the orchard and with bottling,” Theresa said.
Gord who divides his time between the cider and the cattle is in charge of the orchard and all things mechanical. Challenges for the fledgling business have ranged from accessing small scale equipment for bottling carbonated products and the heavy work load to lack of on-the-ground business experience. “Using your own money and making sure everything is working is different
British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2014
from studying it in school,” said Theresa, who holds a bachelor’s degree in commerce.
The sisters, however, wouldn’t have it any other way.
“It’s exciting to be working together on something we make ourselves and is new and so promising,” Theresa said. Looking to the future, Kate said: “It’s really hard to predict where we’ll be in five years. However, we want to grow at a rate that is consistent with the high quality of our product and allows us to maintain a good relationship with customers.”
categories Sweets—low in both acid and tannins and the blandest of cider varieties; can be useful when blending to balance strongly flavoured varieties. Example: Sweet Choppin. Sharps—high in acid, low in tannins both characteristics of dessert apples which can be used as a substitute. Example: Brown’s Apple.
Bittersweets—low in acid, high in tannins; impart the bitterness and astringency characteristic of English cider. Example: Dabinett. Bittersharps—high in both acid and tannins; impart bitterness and astringency; high acidity helps ensure a clean fermentation. Example: Kingston Black.
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