At the end of the month the Okanagan will have something new to toast to, and with, as BC Tree Fruits launches its long anticipated cider, Broken Ladder.
“Our first lot of 100 cases of have left our packinghouse facility, and people will start seeing it in BC Liquor stores early next week,” said Chris Pollock, BC Tree Fruits marketing manager.
“It’s been a lot of planning and work, and it’s something that our group and our growers are behind and we really want it to succeed.”
Six BC Tree Fruit apple varieties, hand-picked from Okanagan Valley orchards are used for the secret blend. They’re pressed within the co-operative’s own cidery adjacent to the old packinghouse building on Clement Avenue, and without the addition of sugar or flavouring, turned into Broken Ladder.
“It proudly lists only one ingredient on the can – BC apples,” reads some of the marketing material for the drink.
“Proud” is a word that comes up a lot when it comes to this product. It likely reflects the long journey fruit growers have taken on the way to bringing the product to the marketplace.
As is the case with farming everywhere, there are good and bad times. During the worst of it locally, there was persistent talk of the co-operative one day putting a strong value-added product on the market, giving farmers a new stream of revenue.
This, it would appear, is the sweet culmination of years of those conversations, not to mention the hard work Okanagan farmers have put in to their orchards over generations.
“We’ve said this many times— we’re in it for the long haul,” said Pollock. “At the end of the day, our mandate is to maximize returns to our grower base. This product and industry are allowing us to do that. We did the research on it, and we made sure it was something that would make sense to our grower group. “
It’s with that group of 500 families who make up the grower group, the name Broken Ladder came to the fore.
“The name is a tribute to our growers who have been growing premium quality fruit in the Okanagan for 80 years,” said Pollock.
“We wanted the cider to have character and represent our growers and the work they do.”
Pollock explained that if you walk onto any local orchard, chances are you’ll see an old wood ladder, with broken rungs that had been in circulation for far too long by the time it was retired.
“They’re not in use anymore, but they’ll be hanging in their barn or workshop somewhere,” he said. “The name is part of the character of the industry and it’s a tribute to those growers.”
Beyond that, it’s pretty tasty, said Pollock.
“We wanted to look at making a cider the same way you would a wine,” said BC Tree Fruits Cider Company Project Manager, Mike Daley.
“We envisioned a cider true to its natural form. The taste is as real as it gets. Cider is the perfect answer for apples not destined for the fresh market…We have all of the varieties and the best fruit to pick from. It makes sense to add value for these families and consumers by creating a cider, true to their roots.”