Thedford cidery recognized in international competition

Cider from Twin Pines Orchards & Cider House in Thedford. (Photo courtesy of Twin Pines Orchards & Cider House/ via Facebook).

A family-run business in Thedford is seeing the fruits of their labour pay off after winning nearly a dozen medals at an international cider and perry competition.

Twin Pines Orchards & Cider House entered 11 ciders and apple wines into The Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition which was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and finished with 11 different medals.

Co-owner Mark Vansteenkiste said they were excited but shocked to see how well they fared at the competition.

“This is the largest international [cider] competition in the world so it’s a big deal,” he said.

One of their drinks, Hammer Bent Old World won first prize for Best in Class – Traditional Cider (Dry). It also happens to be one of Vansteenkiste’s favorites.

“It’s a fully dry cider so it’s not for everyone’s taste just because of course, there is no sweetness to it at all,” he said, adding that the apples used add a unique flavour.

“It’s made with the old bittersharp and bittersweet apples that have been grown in England for centuries but we actually grow some here now at the farm too,” he said. “That’s one we always spend a lot of time on, right [with] the fruit on through trying to make something that’s a traditional cider. That one, you’ve got to have the right apples to even enter that classification so it’s kind of cool.”

Vansteenkiste owns and operates Twin Pines Orchards & Cider House with his brother Mike Vansteenkiste. It started as a family farm and they have been licensed to produce and sell cider for roughly 19 years.

“It’s been kind of a lifetime commitment to this,” laughed Vansteenkiste. “It’s kind of neat to see every once and a while, we’re doing something that’s recognized as good.”

Vansteenkiste noted that cider has increased in popularity in North America over the past several years.

“It’s kind of neat to see that we started doing this before it was popular but it’s grown by leaps and bounds and it continues to set new records year over year in terms of sales.”

Vansteenkiste said they’re proud to see how well their businesses and other Canadian businesses did at the competition, especially since they had a hand in helping to get entries to Michigan.

“We are the collection point for all of the cideries in Canada, they send it all here. Then we get it across to the competition,” he said. “Canada was well represented and Canada did extremely well.”

Overall, Canadian businesses earned 160 medals at this year’s competition. Ontario ranked fifth with 75 medals in total.

“It kind of shows that Canada does grow some really great apples and has some good cider makers,” he said.

Like many others, Vansteenkiste said business has been a challenge during the COVID-19 pandemic as they were limited to curbside pick-up for a while and keg sales were down due to bars being closed. However, things are moving in the right direction and he hopes they continue the course.