Vernon orchardists David and Melissa Dobernigg have big hopes for Okanagan’s apple industry, despite the struggles and dwindling profits experienced by many apple growers in recent years.

With funding through IAF , the Doberniggs led a study to determine the market potential for ciders.

They conducted valuable market research and are sharing this information so other growers can more accurately determine feasibility and minimize risk for their own operations.

IAF is happy to report that the project has established that there is indeed demand for high quality craft ciders in the BC marketplace. Growers can now visit the Doberniggs’ website, thebxpress.com, to access free, detailed information covering both the production side of cider-making and consumer preference for different cider varieties.

The project’s potential extends far beyond the Dobernigg’s backyard, however. The entrepreneurial couple believe that the development of a craft cidery region is an opportunity for growers throughout the valley to not only add revenue streams to their business but also to utilize cull fruit normally discarded)and reserve their best fruit for the fresh market.

Not only that, but according to Melissa Dobernigg, a craft cidery region could significantly boost agri-tourism in the valley.

“Craft cider is a big trend right now, especially just across the border,” Dobernigg asserts. “This could really open the doors for agri-toursim and help growers attract people to the farm.”

So what’s next for the Doberniggs? Now that consumer demand has been confirmed, the couple along with other growers are proceeding with an on-farm cidery and are contemplating forming an industry-wide organization representing cider makers and cider variety growers.

According to Melissa, “there’s a real spirit of collaboration among cider enthusiasts, we’re all excited to see this unfold in the valley. There’s been a lot of uncertainty in the industry lately, but this will help us move forward with more confidence.”

Funding: $4,858 provided through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program. (SP176)