Orchard to Glass: The Story of Kelowna’s Cider Apples

A cluster of ripe apples hanging from a tree branch against a clear blue sky in Kelowna.

In the sun-dappled orchards of Kelowna, a quiet revolution brews, one that transforms the humble apple into an emblem of craft and flavour. This is the story of how Kelowna's apples, nurtured by the unique Okanagan climate, become the soul of an emerging and exciting cider industry.

Kelowna's Apple Varieties

Kelowna’s apple orchards are a mosaic of colour and aroma, each apple variety bringing its own character to the cider table. Honeycrisp apples, known for their crisp texture and subtly sweet flavour, are a favourite for both eating and cider-making. Their honeyed notes infuse a gentle sweetness into the cider, balancing the sharper tones of other varieties.

In contrast, the bright green Granny Smith apples offer a tart, juicy profile, ideal for crafting ciders with a bit of zing. Their natural acidity lends a refreshing sharpness, making them a popular choice among cider connoisseurs. Meanwhile, Macintosh apples, with their bright red skin and all-purpose nature, are a go-to for juicing, contributing a classic apple flavour. Golden Delicious apples are the chameleons of the orchard, adept in both sweet and savoury roles, and their inclusion in ciders brings a smooth, versatile sweetness that appeals to a wide range of palates. These apple varieties, among others like Johngold Macoun, Gala, and Fuji, form the backbone of Kelowna's cider industry, each adding a unique note to the symphony of flavours.

The Cider Making Process in Kelowna

Harvested at the peak of ripeness, each apple variety contributes its distinct flavour profile to the cider. The process begins with the careful selection and blending of different apples, a crucial step that determines the cider's final character. Fermentation then works its magic, as natural yeasts convert the apples' sugars into alcohol, slowly crafting the crisp, effervescent drink that is cider.

This careful blend of science and artistry is evident in every glass of Kelowna cider. From the tartness of Granny Smith to the sweetness of Golden Delicious, the variety of apples used in the cider-making process directly influences the flavour, aroma, and body of the cider. In Kelowna, cider makers often experiment with both dessert and heritage apples, creating a diverse range of ciders from the dry and crisp to the sweet and mellow.

Cider Varieties and Styles

Kelowna's cider scene is as varied as its orchards, with an array of styles to suit any palate. Traditional apple ciders, with their straightforward, fruit-forward profiles, remain a staple. However, the local cideries are not afraid to experiment. Infused ciders, incorporating everything from herbs to berries, offer a playful twist on the classic cider. These creative concoctions are not just a treat for the taste buds but also a canvas for the cider makers' imagination.

Moreover, the emergence of specialty ciders, like those infused with tequila, showcases Kelowna’s bold approach to cider-making. These innovative styles often surprise and delight, offering a new cider experience that challenges the traditional perceptions of the drink. Whether dry, semi-sweet, or sweet, each cider style reflects the diverse apple varieties of Kelowna and the creativity of its cider makers.

Sustainability and Local Impact

The cider industry in Kelowna is deeply rooted in sustainability and community. The orchards, many of which are old-growth, play a crucial role in maintaining the agricultural heritage and ecological balance of the region. These venerable orchards not only produce higher quality apples, but they also showcase Kelowna's commitment to sustainable farming practices.

This dedication extends beyond the orchards to the cideries themselves. By sourcing locally, these businesses support the local economy and reduce the environmental impact associated with long-distance transportation. The craft cider movement in Kelowna is more than just a trend; it's a sustainable, community-focused approach to agriculture and business.

Craft Cideries in Kelowna

Kelowna is home to a vivid community of craft cideries, each with its unique approach to cider-making. Scenic Road Cider Co. takes pride in using 100% of their own fruit, ensuring that each bottle is a pure expression of their orchard’s bounty.

At these cideries there is a passion for quality and a great respect for the apple. These local businesses are both producing cider, and crafting a story in every bottle – one that speaks of Kelowna's land, its people, and its heritage.

Cider Tasting and Tourism

Kelowna invites both connoisseurs and curious visitors to discover the world of cider through immersive tasting experiences. The local cideries, set amidst scenic orchards and rolling hills, offer a sensory journey through the diverse flavours of Kelowna's apples. Visitors can savour the crisp, refreshing taste of a traditional apple cider or explore the more adventurous infusions and specialty ciders.

These tastings often come with a side of education, as knowledgeable cidery staff share insights into the cider-making process, apple varieties, and flavour profiles. Beyond tastings, many orchards offer tours and apple picking experiences, allowing visitors to connect with the land and its produce. This integration of tourism and agriculture not only enriches the visitor experience but also fosters a deeper appreciation for Kelowna's cider industry.


From the sunlit orchards to the bubbling fermentation tanks, the story of Kelowna's cider apples is a tale of tradition, innovation, and community. It's a story that unfolds in every glass of cider, rich with the flavours of the valley and the spirit of its people. Whether you're a cider aficionado or a curious traveller, Kelowna's orchards and cideries offer a unique journey into the Okanagan Valley's apple country. Here, the simple apple is not just a fruit; it's a symbol of craft, flavour, and the lively community that turns these orchard gems into liquid gold.