As cider booms, Brock’s CCOVI continues to be a key industry partner

Grocery stores across the province are vying to be one of 95 new retailers authorized to sell cider to Ontario consumers next year.

With Ontario’s thirst for cider far from quenched, Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) continues to be at the forefront of advancing the booming industry.

CCOVI is the only institution in Canada to offer a certification in cider production through the Cider Institute of North America, and it also provides analytical testing services to help cider makers deliver the best product possible.

CCOVI’s Continuing Education Manager Barb Tatarnic says that pairing the foundational educational program with testing services brings a holistic approach to the learning process.

Denise Flynn, an apple grower from Church Point, N.S., left, learns the intricacies of the yeast addition process of cider production from Brock University PhD candidate Andréanne Hébert-Haché during CCOVI’s Cider and Perry Production course earlier this year.

“CCOVI has been able to branch out into an industry that is important here in Niagara and all across Canada,” Tatarnic says. “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.”

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, adds CCOVI’s Steven Trussler.

“If a consumer tries a faulted product they may simply decide they don’t like cider and that’s a lost customer,” says Trussler, who is the CINA certified instructor in the institute’s cider program. “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,” he says.

Denise Flynn, an apple grower from Church Point, Nova Scotia, left, was among the dozens of cider-makers and soon-to-be-cider makers who attended CCOVI’s last sold-out Cider and Perry Production – A Foundation course.

Ford also says the industry is changing as fast as it is expanding. This forces 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.

With that in mind, CCOVI will be expanding its cider offerings to include more advanced courses in the near future. This would add to the growing number of continuing education courses now offered by the institute, which has more than tripled over the past year. The number of people accessing those courses has also increased significantly, rising from 77 in 2016 to 247 in 2017.

“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.”

After attending a masterclass in advanced cider production last month, taught by renowned cider expert Peter Mitchell at Cornell University, Tatarnic says 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 and that Brock is in the perfect position to further drive that industry forward.

“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,” he says.

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