Blue Moon produces three still ciders — Asian pear, apple and apple/pear — which have alcohol content in the 7.5 to 9 per cent range. “We buy the Asian pears and some dessert apples from B.C. Tree Fruits in Keremeos and Direct Organics in Cawston,” Marla said.
An aperitif-styled apple cider with a
real kick at 18 per cent alcohol content is also available.
In 2013, George studied with master cider maker Peter Mitchell in Oregon and a year later produced the first sparkling apple cider in the Raven’s Moon series.
This dry sparkling series features bourbon infused apple cider, apple/raspberry cider,
apple/blackberry and Asian pear cider plus a cider called Community Drive made exclusively from heritage apples grown on Quadra, Denman and Hornby islands.
George and Marla now have the enviable challenge of increasing production to satisfy demand. “Last year we made 10,000 litres. This year we anticipate making 52,000 litres and plan to increase that amount to 120,000 litres in 2018,” Marla said. The couple is investing in increased
tank capacity to help make this happen.
Blue Moon’s dining room was removed to provide more indoor space for cider customers wanting a taste; they can also be accommodated outside in warmer months. The warmer months also find George selling Blue Moon fruit wine and cider at the farmers’ market in Courtenay.
“Our business has increased fourfold in three years. The current challenge is getting enough apples, dessert, cider and heritage,” Marla said.
Blue Moon’s orchard includes small plantings of cider varieties such as Dabinett, and Yarlington Mills and older varieties such as Russet and Gravenstein.
In addition to purchasing apples, George and Marla are leasing five acres in order to expand their own plantings of heritage and cider varieties. “We’ll be interested to see how well cider varieties will do here,” Marla said.
She is particularly concerned about
BC Tree Fruits’ venture into the cider market with Broken Ladder, because of direct competition in the marketplace and the possibility of
Tree Fruits needing to curtail sales of dessert apples to other producers in order to supply its own production. Looking to the future, Limosin and
Ehler anticipate selling cider in kegs and making plum cider.
Two years ago, Marla began growing flowers in a large greenhouse and on one acre. “There’s a good market for farm
fresh, u-pick flowers. A lot of women pick and arrange the flowers for their own weddings ,” she said. Blue Moon provides employment for a significant number of people who work in the orchard, berry patch and greenhouse as well as in the cellar, tasting room and in marketing and sales.
“From mid-July to the end of September we hire 20 locals for blueberry picking alone,” Marla said. Marla’s mother, Sylvia Limosin, lends a helping hand wherever needed.
“She’s likes working with the flowers. In fact, we’ve nicknamed her ‘sweet pea’.” Marla said.
George and Marla’s son Quin, 18, a chef in-training, is interested in eventually taking over the cidery.
British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2016
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