Cider is a beverage that people who live and work in or near the Annapolis Valley take – perhaps inevitably – very much for granted. Made from the fermented juice of apples, the growing of this delectable fruit in Nova Scotia can be traced back more than 400 years to the arrival of the first French settlers near today’s Annapolis Royal.
$13 million + annual apple crop
Nova Scotia currently produces an annual average of approximately 2.5 million bushels of apples, which is equal to 8% – 9% of the Canadian production1. The farm gate value of Nova Scotia’s annual apple crop is approximately $13 million, based on the most recently available numbers – though it is likely to be considerably higher now.
It’s probably true to say that cider has given pretty much all other beverages a run for their money in recent years. This observation is especially true of so-called hard cider (the bubbly, delicious stuff that we adults tend to prefer) whose impact on the palate – sweet or dry, and usually strong – gives it the easy drinking feel of beer combined with the sophistication of a good wine.
Three cider styles
Ciders come in three main styles2, modern, heritage and speciality:
Modern ciders are made from culinary apples, lower in tannins and higher in acidity than other ciders. They vary in color from pale to yellow and range from brilliant to hazy in clarity.
Heritage ciders are made from both culinary and cider apples. Higher in tannins than modern ciders, they range in colour from yellow to amber, and in clarity from brilliant to hazy.
Specialty ciders are open to a lot more manipulation than modern or heritage style ciders. They include: fruit, hopped, spiced, wood-aged, sour, and iced ciders. Fruit ciders have other fruit or juices added before or after fermentation, like cherries, blueberries, and cranberries.
The aesthetics of cider
These are some elementary facts about cider. Beyond the facts, though, is what can only be called the aesthetics of cider, as deployed by Bishop’s Cellar3 – the Halifax based retailer – to describe Heirloom, the Annapolis Valley Cider Company’s signature cider:
‘It is crafted from cool fermented juice made from traditional apple varieties such as Gravenstein, Golden Russet and Northern Spy. A final touch of freshly pressed apple juice gives this cider its golden hue and authentic, fresh apple aroma.
The apple varieties we use will vary from batch to batch. For instance, for our inaugural release, it was back sweetened with Cox’s Orange Pippin, a heritage variety that originated in England in the early 19th Century.
Because Heirloom has beautiful apple aromatics, solid tannic structure and a refreshing effervescence, it pairs well with dishes where an aromatic white wine or sparkling wine would be a good fit. Pairings include fresh salads and cheeses, many pork and chicken dishes and oysters.’
No wonder cider is so popular!
Conclusion: the economic importance of the Annapolis Valley
Beyond cider, the Annapolis Valley is frequently referred to as Nova Scotia’s breadbasket. Its unique microclimate, fertile soils and skilled farming community make this area one of the most productive4 and diverse agricultural growing regions in Canada.
Farm businesses here have a strong local orientation. They both buy and sell in their local community, creating significant economic activity. Directly and indirectly, they are responsible for several thousand jobs in our community.
Our cider industry is an integral part of the economic wellbeing of the Annapolis Valley as a whole. Long may it thrive!
Dave Ritcey, The Ritcey Team, Scotia Wealth Management