A Profile of Thornbury Village Cidery

Made in No Particular Hurry
by Sara d’Amato

Its tall, white cans peppered with pictographic history are now the top selling local craft cider at the LCBO and grocery stores, a coup for Thornbury Village Cidery that began producing only 10 years ago. This past year, the cidery was purchased by Colio Estate Winery banking on the rising tide of craft cider. The Colio team embarked on a year-long renovation to the building and the brand packaging.

Thornbury’s recently renovated cider house dates back over a century when it was owned by the Mitchell family of apple growers. Although the building was burnt down in the 1920s, it was rebuilt with thick, insulating cork walls to keep the apples naturally cool in storage. The location was ideal as the Georgian train track came right to its doors to load up apples that were brought to Toronto for shipping to the UK.

Thornbury Village Cidery

The building’s uses were many for the community over time, including as a bomb shelter during the cold war, and subsequently as a town market. In 2007, the building was purchased to house the Thornbury Village Cidery but it was not until this past year that it was able to open as a visitor center.

The cidery purchases its apples from Golden Town Apple Products in the scenic Blue Mountains region along the shores of the Georgian Bay. The area is home to one of the largest concentrations of apple orchards in the country with over 7,500 acres planted which are growing and expanding.

Thornbury’s Cidermaster, Doug Johnson, has decades of experience with apple processing and fermentation as well as a background in biochemistry. Johnson and his team have become experts on the use of non-traditional cider varieties for processing. Due to a significant shortage of traditional cider varietal apples (varieties such as Kingston Black, Dabinett, Golden Russet, Liberty and Michelin, for example) in Ontario, Thornbury Village Cidery, in association with the Ontario Craft Cider Association, is working with the apple growing community and data from the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre to find ways to increase the tradition cider apple growing in Ontario. Notwithstanding, the apples used to make Thornbury cider are all locally grown and include McIntosh, Red Delicious, Northern Spy, Spartan, Jona Gold, Russet, Cortland and half a dozen others each with their unique properties and distinctive flavours.

Thornbury Village Cidery

While apples are the main ingredient, they are not the only component – fruits such as cranberry and honey from a local apiary are used to produce some of the naturally flavoured ciders. You’ll have to visit the cider house to try many of these flavours which are continuously rotating on tap. Rhubarb-strawberry, Spiced-Apple and even dry-hopped experimentation is in the works.

Thornbury’s flagship Premium Cider is produced in a dry, UK-style with a refreshing lightness that highlights the purity of the fruit. Johnson cold-presses and cold filters it to achieve this bright style making sure not to rush the process. A neutral Champagne yeast is used to ferment which doesn’t interfere with the flavour of the apple and gives a gentle mousse.

Riding the crest of the craft cider wave, Thornbury and other Ontario craft cideries seem to have a bright future ahead as the beverage has proven a great deal more than a trend. The LCBO reports that locally produced craft cider showed a 54% increase in sales in 2015-2016 and is now responsible for $5.1 million in sales in stores. In addition, Danielle Giroux, the VP of Marketing for Colio & Thornbury Village, is impressed by sales and the response by consumers in grocery stores locations throughout the province. Although the gluten-free nature of cider is surely a contributing factor to its success, Giroux mentions that it is a secondary message for the cider house. What is most challenging is to educate consumers on the inherent character of true local craft cider as most of what is on the market currently is imported, overly sweet and coloured. The cider house is working hard now, along with other local producers, to convey their message and to make the distinction between mass-produced imports and premium craft cider that commands a slightly higher price. Creating a product that is fresh, pure and authentic, with the main ingredient front and center and distinctive is the aim of Thornbury.

Thornbury Village Cidery

The team at the cider house takes a great deal of pride in their surroundings and will continue to restore the spacious and significant new location. Offering views of the Blue Mountains and Georgian Bay, the newly renovated location is sure to become a landmark within the region. For more information, visit: www.thornburycraft.com

The team at WineAlign recently had the opportunity to taste through a range of ciders from Thornbury. You can find all of our thoughts here:

Thornbury Spiced Apple Cider

Thornbury Honey Apple Cider

Thornbury Cranberry Apple Cider

Thornbury Premium Apple Cider

This feature was commissioned by Thornbury Village Craft Cider House. As a regular feature WineAlign tastes wines/ciders submitted by a single winery/cidery. Our critics independently, as always, taste, review and rate the wines/ciders – good, bad and indifferent, and those reviews are posted to WineAlign. We then independently recommend wines/ciders to appear in the winery profile. Wineries/Cideries pay for this service. Ads for some wines may appear at the same time, but the decision on which wines/ciders to put forward in our report, if any, is entirely up to WineAlign. See below for more details provided by the cidery.

About Thornbury Village Cidery

Established in 2007, nestled in the famous Blue Mountains, the heart of Canada’s apple country, Thornbury Village Craft Cider House has been proudly producing premium apple cider in a century old historic apple storage facility. Thornbury cider is traditionally crafted, in no particular hurry, in small batches from local apples. .  Come taste for yourself as see why “True Craftsmanship is at our Core”.

Please visit www.thornburycraft for more information about the Thornbury Village Craft Cider & Brew House.

If you would like to order products please contact:

[email protected]   905-859-5464 | 1-877-965-0995

The Cider and Crew house is open for Tours and Tastings Daily :

Sunday to Wednesday 11:00 am to 6:00 pm

Thursday to Saturday 11:00 am to 8:00 pm

To book a larger group please contact: [email protected]

PH: (519) 599-2616