Is there any food that signals the start of the autumn more than the apple? Every fall, as our trees start to change colour and a fresh chill settles into the air, our thoughts turn to this sweet, crisp fruit and all the incredible treats these create. One of the most refreshing of these treats: cider.
We have to admit, sipping a cold hard cider lakeside in the summer months is a pretty awesome experience, and we think this gets even better in fall. With the fall sun still warm enough to sit outside with just a light jacket or even a cozy blanket, but not quite so hot as to accelerate the melting of the ice in your glass; and a sparkling lake reflecting brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges from the trees surrounding it; it’s a pretty idyllic setting to toast this fall fruit.
Lucky for us, we have a few cideries across Ontario’s Highlands who are crafting incredible apple filled bevvies with passion. Bonus: each of the cideries below are located just a short drive off of Highway 7 if you’re travelling between Peterborough and Ottawa, making it easy to pick up a bottle or two to enjoy at your destination.
Kings Mill Cider – Stirling
Tucked among the rolling backroads of Stirling-Rawdon Township, this cidery is crafting delicious ciders with many unique twists, ranging from bone dry to sweet. You can order online if you don’t feel like leaving the house, but we’d recommend visiting the cidery on a Saturday or Sunday from 11am-6pm between May and December to meet Kees and Margaret, the friendly folks running this operation, and sample some of their products to pick your fave. Topping our list has got to be the earthy notes of their ‘Hopped’ cider, incorporating locally-sourced hops, but the warm finish of the ‘Russett Heritage’ makes this a perfect sipper for fall.
Ugly Apple Cider – Lanark
Not all apples are pretty, but every glistening golden bottle from this award-winning cidery certainly is. The producers behind these creative ciders are passionate about apples – every single scarred, crabbed, and ugly one of them – and have perfected their artisanal, small-batch, clear, crisp and dry wines and ciders made from wild apples straight from their farm. We’re big fans of the dry, yet slightly sour notes of ‘El Escanciador,’ their Spanish-style cider. You can pick up their cider, have a chance to chat with the passionate owners, Amy and Bret, and even see some of their wild apple trees by visiting the farm on Sundays between 12-5pm, or by appointment.
Farmgate Cider – Arnprior
The team at this family-run cidery works together every step of the way – through pruning, harvesting, crushing, pressing, and fermenting – to celebrate local and sustainable agriculture and produce a bright and well-balanced drink. The apple that most makes us think of fall has got to be the McIntosh, so with the ‘Bee Squared Craft Cider’ blending three derivatives of this beauty – Empire, Cortland, and Spartan – and sweetening it with natural unfiltered honey, it’s an instant fave. Tastings, tours, and events are available by appointment, or you can check their upcoming market days to find this delicious cider represented at some local farmers markets.