In the 20th century, European families who settled on Coast Salish territory brought their most-loved apple varieties, and many of these trees (and their wild offspring) are still found growing in orchards and backyards around Pender Island. Twin Island Cider is located in an old orchard once established by the Pollard family and now owned by local residents.
For the last year and a half we have been grafting, growing and planting-out an additional 1,300 heirloom bittersweet, bittersharp and mixed-use apple varieties on dwarfing and semi-standard root stock. At our orchard, and in other Pender Island orchards we manage, we practice organic and permaculture growing methods because we understand that even the smallest organisms inhabiting an orchard are vital to overall ecosystem health. We work to manage common coastal apple tree pests and diseases, from coddling moth to canker, by tracking disease cycles and using IPM (integrated pest management) strategies in our daily orchard work.
Our main apple varieties include:
King of Tompkins County: Commonly found in the backyards of island residents, the large, red and green, waxy "Kings" are first-rate cookers and juicers. They are the workhorse apple of the blend, lending our Old Growth cider a refreshing acidity and green apple aromas.
Gravenstein: A Dutch heritage apples that increase the cider's delicate aromatics. These pleasing, yellow and red striped apples were commonly planted in the orchards of island settlers, and their longevity on the Gulf Islands has much to do with their preference for damp soil.
Baldwin: A beautiful red and green apple that has a long history in eastern American cider making. Known for being well-balanced and having fairly high sugars, these are reliable croppers. Some American cideries even produce Baldwin single varietals--we chose to highlight, but selectively blend this apple for a cider with greater complexity.
Cox's Orange Pippin: Like many Pender residents, the Cox's Orange Pippin thrives in ocean-side places with mild winters. A heritage English apple, this Cox is prized in both cider blends and fresh-eating.
Ribston Pippin: The old, esteemed parent of Cox's Orange Pippin, Rowan Jacobson calls this the "meaner, greener" version of it's offspring. We love the earthiness of this lightly russeted apple.
Belle de Boskoop: Cidermaker Claude Jolicoeur considers this a good russet variety for blending because of its somewhat dangerously high acidity and high sugars. At the Lupin orchard, the Belle trees are heavy croppers, and are some of the most resilient trees in our orchard.
Golden Russet: An integral part of North America's cidermaking history, the Golden Russet stores well and has an exceptionally high sugar content. It is an aromatic apple that lends a unique flavour to the ciders it goes into.
Other unique heirloom varieties: