Across the province, grocery stores are contending to be one of the 95 new retailers authorized to sell cider next year.
And with Ontario’s thirst for cider far from quenched, Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute continues to be a leader in advancing the booming industry, being the only institution in Canada to offer a certification in cider production through the Cider Institute of North America. The program provides analytical testing services to help cider makers deliver the best product possible, said Brock in a media release.
Barb Tatarnic, CCOVI’s continuing education manager, said pairing the foundational educational program with testing services brings a “holistic approach” to the learning process.
“CCOVI has been able to branch out into an industry that is important here in Niagara and all across Canada,” said Tatarnic.
“By delivering the foundational learning elements and then providing the opportunity to test the finished product, we are ensuring cider makers are delivering the quality of product their communities are looking for.”
Steven Trussler, CINA certified instructor in the CCOVI program, said maintaining quality from the orchard through to the consumer’s glass is especially crucial when dealing with cider because the product is less established with consumers.
“If a consumer tries a faulted product they may simply decide they don’t like cider and that’s a lost customer,” said Trussler.
“Having that baseline of knowledge across the country helps producers make a higher-quality product and increases the number of cider consumers, which benefits everyone.”
Cole Ford, lead cider maker at Shiny Apple Cider in Niagara-on-the-Lake, uses a range of services provided by CCOVI as a quality control measure for his products.
“The services provided by CCOVI allow us access to fast, reliable and consistent results, which, for a small-to-medium-sized business like Shiny Apple, is key in providing our consumer the kind of cider they have come to expect from us,” said Ford.
He also said the industry is “changing as fast as it is expanding,” forcing producers like him to constantly learn new things in order to provide cider products that satisfy changing consumer demands.
“Education is key to improving any industry, and having more courses and more diversity in those courses can only help improve Ontario’s cider industry,” he adds.
The CCOVI will be expanding its cider offerings to include more advanced courses in the near future. Brock said the number of people accessing CCOVI courses has increased significantly, rising from 77 in 2016 to 247 in 2017, with the number of continuing education courses offered by the institute more than tripling during the past year.
“You can’t stand still when it comes to the direction the industry is evolving,” says Tatarnic.
“They always want to learn more, and we want to be at the forefront for those next offerings and learning opportunities.”
Tatarnic attended a masterclass in advanced cider production last month, taught by renowned cider expert Peter Mitchell at Cornell University, where “the seeds were sown for CCOVI to take that next step in further educating the industry.”
Mitchell says he’s glad to see such significant growth in the Canadian cider industry.
“As part of the Cider Institute of North America, Brock is uniquely placed and appropriately resourced to take a leading role in Canada in the provision of training, skills and technology development and transfer to new and aspiring cider and perry production enterprises.”