Our story begins with my family business; Campbell’s Orchards, owned and operated by Dianne and Colin Campbell for 35 years. This property is situated on the Bay of Quinte in Prince Edward County.
If you have ever visited the Orchard, it is likely you participated in some of the awesome activities like picking apples, hopping on a wagon ride, getting lost in the corn maze or enjoying our fresh fruits and vegetables. Campbell’s Orchards grows over twenty varieties of apples and pears, strawberries, raspberries, cherries and plenty of other fruits and produce. We also bake pies, crisps, scones and other goodies prepared locally and in-house.
Having fun at the orchard.
Matt Oskamp and I visited my family during the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England. Here we discovered the popularity and deliciousness of hard cider. I can remember enjoying Magner’s Cider on tap at a pub in London discussing our bar ideas for the orchard. As soon as we got home we began experimenting with different varieties of apples grown at the orchard. Ultimately, this led to us starting our own company, Apple Falls Cider.
London, England. 2012.
The name Apple Falls has a few different meanings. Firstly, one of Colin Campbell’s favourite expressions is “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” – one that he often uses when describing me (I’m still not sure if this is a compliment). Since the cider and the orchard go hand in hand, we figured it was a perfect fit. I’d like to give my mom, Dianne Campbell credit for this one.
Colin has also discovered what he likes to call “The Lost Falls of Rednersville”, which are waterfalls that are accessible through the orchard via a secret path. These falls have become a great destination for close friends, family, neighbours and (of course) Sophie.
Lastly, when pressing apples, they come crashing down out of the apple bin into the washer, literally creating a waterfall of apples. This is the fun part to watch!
All of the apples that we will use in our hard cider come from Campbell’s Orchards. These are the same quality apples (and sweet cider) people have enjoyed for years.
In order to get started we needed a push in the right direction. One winter day in 2016 Dianne handed me a business card from a local economic development organization in the County. We discovered the Eastern Ontario Development Plan the provides funding to start-ups businesses such as ourselves. We diligently put together our business plan and submitted our information for the grant through the Prince Edward/Lennox & Addington Community Futures Development Corporation (PELA CFDC). We received the notice the day we were leaving for Florida in March 2016. As we departed, we realized it would be our last vacation for a while!
A long day of bottling.
Another business that has supported us has been Hinterland Winery and County Road Beer, Jonas and Vicki have been extremely helpful through our entire journey. They are always the first people to answer our questions and never hesitate in lending a helping hand. Be sure to visit them on your County wine, beer and cider tour!
The making of hard apple cider is not a new process and has been done for centuries. Both of us have had the opportunity to work with local cider makers to learn different methods and styles. The method to making our hard cider is primarily simple. We let the yeast convert the natural sugars of the apple into alcohol. A cider’s taste can be influenced by many factors, such as apple varieties, time, temperature, bacteria, and the weather. This year our cider was quite high in alcohol (7.4%). This is in direct correlation with the 2016 drought. Our apples were highly concentrated with natural sugars. You do the math!
Our first cider, ‘Premiere’, is a combination of Empire, Northern Spy, Red Delicious, Russet, Flemish Beauty Pears, and Bosc Pears. The idea of using a variety of apples is to balance the sweet, bitter and sharp flavours. This traditional cider will be light and dry with a small amount of natural carbonation.
In commemoration for Canada’s 150th birthday we have created a cider blend we have named ‘Heritage’. We have two different batches of this blend. Eight hundred litres out of two thousand has been fermented with sour cherries and both have been slightly sweetened using maple syrup from Nyman Farms and Green’s Sugar Bush. We are also experimenting with different flavours by eventually infusing our cider with various spices and fruits. Locally sourced and grown.
Cheers to new beginnings!
So far, starting a business like Apple Falls has been an exciting learning experience for the both of us. Currently, we are a small operation that will produce a modest number of batches per year. You can find us at Campbell’s Orchards in Prince Edward County. We are currently open every Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 4:30pm.
We are looking forward to being involved in collaborative events across the region with the Bay of Quinte Craft Association such as the craft beer and cider festival in Belleville, Trenton and Prince Edward County.
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