Two of the most challenging puzzle-pieces to find when planting a cider orchard are rootstock (the base of the new tree--rooted clippings that dictate its eventual size and vigour), and scionwood (clippings from the variety of apple tree you want to graft onto the rootstock--see photo on the right). Our hunt took us to BC's sunniest orchard region, the Similkameen Valley, to visit a generous and knowledgeable orchardist who let us snag some clippings from his cider trees. We focused on collecting bittersweet varieties--tannic apples that will balance the acidity of our heritage Gulf Island apples.
The clippings will be enough to get our 1200 tree Pender cider orchard started, which we will be grafting in early March. Highlights include Yarlington Mill, an English apple favoured as a good single-varietal cider, Muscadet de Dieppe, a perfume-y apple of French origin where it is a classic for cider, and Sauergrauech, a heritage Swiss apple more sour than sweet, which makes it a good candidate for adding complexity to the blend.