Last month while I was traveling in Southern Ontario, I stopped for a visit at Sunnybrook Farms Estate Winery to taste their range of quality fruit wines. The winery was the first quality fruit winery in Canada, established in 1993. I tried their apple cider and was blown away!
Sunnybrook Farm Estate Winery is owned and operated by Gerald and Vivien Goertz. Gerald was born and raised in Niagara-on-the-Lake and has been involved in fruit growing in Niagara-on-the-Lake all of his life.
Sunnybrook Farm initially consisted of 35 acres of peaches, cherries, plums, pears, and apple along the southern shore of Lake Ontario at Four Mile Creek on what was once a large river delta. The deep sandy loam soil and the temperature moderating effect of the Niagara Escarpment is ideal for growing the over 20 varieties of fruit produced on the farm.
The winery currently produces about 3,500 cases of a wide variety of peach, pear, apple, plum, apricot, and berry wines, including distinctive iced fruit wines.
One new addition to its portfolio is the production of hard apple cider. What is hard cider? Simply put, it is the fermented juice of apples creating an ale-like beverage. The alcoholic strength is similar to beers and coolers, a bit more than beer, a bit less than coolers.
It is as popular in England as ale, and widely consumed in Australia and France. In the U.S it is often called draft cider.
The one product I was really impressed with was their Ironwood Hard Cider, is a lively off-dry drink, full of fresh apple flavour, crafted from a blend of 15 varieties of Ontario apples. There are a lot of ciders out there but it is nice to drink a truly excellent, high quality and natural one like the one I was lucky enough to try.
If you are ever doing the wine tour in the Niagara area, stop by the farm and ask for the cider, you will agree with me that its one of the best ciders out there…