With a strong belief in the rising popularity of cider, David O’Flaherty travelled more than 10,000 kilometres from South Korea to learn more about producing the drink from Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI).
“We believe cider is going to be the new thing that is really going to take off in Korea, so I came to learn the foundations,” said O’Flaherty, who was one of the students attending the Cider and Perry Production Foundation course at Brock University last week.
While the cider industry is booming in Canada with more than 100 producers, in South Korea there are only a handful of cideries, and imported international brands are quite popular.
Originally from Ottawa, the 46-year-old O’Flaherty has lived in South Korea for 17 years and heard about the course online. He received funding from the Seoul Global Startup Centre to travel to Niagara for the five-day intensive course.
O’Flaherty said the hands-on experience he gained through the lectures, lab work, cider making and tastings will help craft his own ciders back in South Korea this fall.
“It is going to be called DMZ Orchards,” he said, explaining that his orchard is located near the demilitarized zone along the North Korea border. “It is very clean and pure out there and in Koreans’ minds, when they think of DMZ they think of pure and natural waters and unspoiled beauty.”
He has about 10 acres of apple orchards and said there are only four or five commercially available apple types in Korea.
“But Korea also has a lot wild fruit and a lot of interesting things that we can add to it,” O’Flaherty said. “So even if you are using a single type such as fuji apples, we also have Siberian and Manchurian crab apples, Quince and a whole lot of things we can add like tannin. I think we can make a pretty interesting flavour profile with the apples that we have at hand.”
In Canada, cider producers have been planting cider-specific apples over the last several years as production and consumption of the beverage increases.
CCOVI continues to lead the way for this growing industry by being the only program provider in Canada to offer professional development courses at two levels of certification in cider production through the Cider Institute of North America (CINA).
“To date, more than 100 students have earned the Foundation Certificate in Cider and Perry Production through CCOVI,” said Steven Trussler, the CINA-certified instructor in CCOVI’s cider program. “The foundation and advanced-level courses play a key role in helping cider makers develop their technical skills and gain industry-recognized qualifications.”
Barb Tatarnic, CCOVI’s Manager of Continuing Education and Outreach, said with each offering of the course they are seeing more and more students travelling to Brock from across Canada, the U.S. and around the world.
“In this last course, half of the students travelled from the U.S. to take part and we had others from all across Canada,” she said. “It is clear that there is a strong desire and excitement for this type of training in the rapidly growing cider and perry industry. We are thrilled to be a key player in driving the industry forward.”