There's a surprising lot of interesting stuff going on around here, and this space is devoted to discovering and sharing it. We'll post regular updates on merchants, activities and events. Look in often and soon you'll see why Meaford calls itself "The other Big Apple".

posted July 12th, 2014
Meaford Cider Tour 4 – Duxbury Cider Company

James McIntosh was 14 when he discovered hard cider. It was legal, he hastens to add, since he was visiting France at the time. That first taste got him wondering. Why wasn’t someone doing this in Meaford? Raised in Toronto, James spent his childhood and teenage summers at his grandmother’s Meaford farm, up the Duxbury Sideroad overlooking Georgian Bay, and he was well aware of the local apple industry.

The idea took hold. Twenty years later, he’s releasing his second batch of Duxbury Cider, which is available at a number of restaurants in Ontario, including Ted’s Range Road Diner and The Leeky Canoe in Meaford; Shorty’s Grill in Owen Sound and The Barrhead Pub and Grill in Markdale.

After moving to Meaford full-time in 2005, he read a book on cider making and started “tinkering”, using home wine equipment and a borrowed apple press. The results, he says, were “drinkable”. But over time, his experiments bore, ahem, fruit. By fermenting different varieties of apples separately, he gained an understanding of their characteristics and flavours, and his blends became more complex.

James has planted his own orchard, and makes his cider with only local apples. “It’s all about ways to support local growers,” he says.

A couple of years ago, he began working at Coffin Ridge, which produces its own cider along with its wines, and he arranged to use their larger-scale equipment as part of his employment. Last summer, he released the first batch of Duxbury Cider to rave reviews.

In November, Andy Stark, of the Salt Spring Cider Company, wrote that Duxbury “has a soft golden colour and aromas of fresh sliced apples with hints of honey. This dry, crisp cider has an intense full-flavour with bursts of apples and a touch of vanilla. It has sparkling style full of effervescence, a great structure and a smooth lingering finish that leaves the flavours of baked apples with butter on the roof of your mouth… I highly recommend you put this one on your ‘must have’ list.”

Duxbury Cider

Local restaurants, as well as locations in Toronto and Stratford, were quick to appreciate the unique new cider. “I just started really small and let the cider talk for itself,” says James.

In addition to enjoying draft Duxbury Cider where available on tap, you can also purchase bottles at Coffin Ridge and from the website (as available).

posted June 20th, 2014
Meaford Cider Tour Stop 2 – Coffin Ridge’s Forbidden Dry Cider

Last time we ventured 10 minutes East to Thornbury Village Cidery. For the second stop on the Meaford Cider Tour, we’re heading 10 minutes in the opposite direction. Take Highway 26 to the 2nd Concession and turn right (North). Seven kilometres along the road, you’ll discover a sweeping view of Owen Sound Bay and Griffith Island to the North. Nestled to your left is the black and red Coffin Ridge Winery, with a spacious deck overlooking the view.

While Coffin Ridge is gaining a considerable reputation for the wines made from it’s Georgian Bay vineyards, you mustn’t forbid yourself a taste of Forbidden Dry Cider. This cold-pressed cider releases the fresh, crisp flavour of the organic Grey County apples used in its crafting.

Coffin Ridge held its inaugural “Cider Release and Pig Roast” last month, with a (chilly, but sunny) outdoor performance by local favourites, The MacKenzie Blues Band. At the event, they introduced the new black, red and silver Forbidden can, which replaces the traditional “lightning-stopped” bottle the cider originally came in – and announced that for the first time, Forbidden is now available at selected LCBO stores.

Forbidden Dry Cider

Coffin Ridge is open throughout the summer, and beginning tonight, is open till 9 p.m. on Friday nights, with vinter’s plates served till 8. It’s a perfect chance to catch the sunset over the Bay while enjoying the fruits of the local harvest. No reservations necessary.

And beginning Saturday, July 12 through September 13, the Saturday Summer Music series will entertain you from 2 to 4 p.m.

Check the website for more information and hours – and sign up for the mailing list to stay in the loop.

mation and hours – and sign up for the mailing list to stay in the loop.

posted June 14th, 2014
Meaford Cider Tour – First stop, Thornbury Village Cidery

Meaford has long been known for its apples, and if you’ve purchased non-alcoholic cider before, you may have enjoyed the taste of them in a refreshing form. But hard cider has a long tradition in Ontario, and many pioneer farms used the windfall from their orchards to ferment their own batches. Today, hard cider’s experiencing a resurgence. It has become the fastest growing alcoholic beverage in the province, and in recent years, new cideries producing hard cider have cropped up throughout the nearby area.

In the next few weeks, we’ll visit our local craft cideries so you can plan a cider tour of Meaford and area.

Cider Stop 1- Thornbury Village Cidery

Ten minutes from Meaford Haven, you’ll find Thornbury Village Cidery, in the large, old poured-concrete building that housed handling facilities for Mitchell’s Apple Juice a generation ago. There, Cider Master Doug Johnson and his team produce Thornbury Premium Cider, a dry, crisp beverage made from 100 percent fresh-pressed local apples.

Thornbury Village Cidery

The company launched in 2008 as Ontario’s second cidery, and one of the pioneers in the Ontario cider boom. Started by Andre Corbeil and group of (mainly British) investors, the company’s flagship cider was such an immediate hit, that the company was recently bought by Beer Barons (now King Brewery).

Thornbury Premium Apple Cider

Thornbury Premium Cider is a “light, easy to drink, champagne-style cider with just a very slight hint of apple,” says the company’s website. Unfortunately, you can’t tour the cidery or taste samples there, but you can easily find yourself a pint at many of the restaurants within walking distance of the cidery (or at the LCBO).

Stay tuned for our next stop.

posted September 26th, 2011
Early apple varieties on the stands

Grandma Lambe’s has a couple of early fall apple varieties on the shelf. The Ginger Gold has a mild flavour with a tart finish and is great for pies. According to one U.S. evalution, the Ginger Gold was “the best apple that we have evaluated that ripens before Gala.”

The Silken, according to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, “is an early fall selection that was noted for its unique white gold porcelain colour and for its outstanding texture and flavour. It is a multiple-pick apple usually harvested over two weeks just ahead of and into the McIntosh season… It is firm, crisp and juicy. It is high in aromatic intensity and sweetness and moderate in acidity.”



posted September 26th, 2011
Local Ontario cider just down the road

Local apple cider comes in a variety of delicious forms. There’s the thick, smooth cider that does double duty. It tastes great cool on a sunny autumn day, and it can warm away the winter when it’s mulled with cinnamon, allspice and cloves and served hot – preferably by a crackling fire.

And then there’s hard cider. You can enjoy this refreshing, sparkling alcoholic beverage any time during the year, but it somehow seems to taste even better as the days grow shorter and the afternoon shadows grow longer

Our area has its own homegrown hard cider, made just down the road in Thornbury. Thornbury Premium Cider has quickly become both a local favourite and a popular choice throughout the province.

A few years back, in 2007, Andre Corbeil was looking to come out of his early retirement, and he happened upon a group of mainly British investors interested in the market for cider in Ontario. Before long Thornbury Village Cidery had been established as only the second cidery in Ontario. (It has since been followed by other cider startups.) Corbeil decided to craft something different from the traditional British ciders, and he turned to Doug Johnson to create it.

The result was Peeler Premium Light Cider, a refreshingly light, champagne-style apple cider that made for perfect refreshment on a summer’s day. It quickly appeared at local restaurants, bars and ski resorts, followed by other restaurants and LCBO outlets throughout Ontario, putting Thornbury Village Cidery on the map. The success caught the attention of Beer Barons, a Toronto-based craft beer importer looking to get into brewing, and this past summer the company bought the cidery.

Doug Johnson remains on board as cider master (and director of operations), and he has tweaked the original recipe. The new Thornbury Premium Cider is now a more traditional 5.3 percent, dry cider, which the cidery describes as: “Fresh apple aroma and flavour. A light body with a refreshing balance of sweetness and slight acidity. The flavour remains bright and distinct throughout a long sparkling finish.”

Mmmmm, think it’s time to take a refreshment break.

Thornbury Premium Apple Cider

The company has indicated it would like to export our homegrown cider to other countries. “We’re very excited that we’ll be using local apples,” Troy Taylor, Beer Baron’s national director of sales and marketing, told the Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin. “That’s a strong selling point.”

posted September 17th, 2011
Your guide to Georgian Bay apple varieties

Time for an apple lesson. With the harvest upon us, you’ll discover more varieties of apples for sale in Meaford than you might have even known existed.

Here are some popular local favourites.

McIntosh – The popular “Mac” is celebrating its 200th birthday this year. Back in 1811, a Scottish immigrant named John McIntosh was clearing his Eastern Ontario farm when he discovered a number of seedling apple trees. He tranplanted them, but only one survived. Carefully nurtured, that single tree spawned one of the most popular apple varieties in the world. Macs make up about 40 percent of the local harvest.

Northern Spy – Next most predominant in the Georgian Bay area, the Spy is first choice for pie fillings and apple sauce.

Empire – A cross between the McIntosh and Red Delicious, this slightly tart variety is juicy, firm and crisp, and makes great applesauce.

Gala – The yellow-orange fruit set off by a red blush is a great picking and eating apple.

Cortland – Wonderful for fresh eating, pies and salads. Cortland slices resist browning and stay white in salads. Mildly sweet with white flesh.

Ida red – A tart tasting white flesh; best stored until Christmas. Delicious baked, makes a super apple pie, and great fresh eating.

Honeycrisp – Released in 1991, the Honey Crisp is quickly gaining vast favour. Exceptionally crisp, pale, yellow flesh with just a hint of tartness. Amazing eating, but also excellent for cooking.

Georgian Bay Honeycrisps

Georgian Bay Honeycrisps

posted September 16th, 2011
Grandma Lambe’s a delicious Meaford attraction

She’s been a fixture of Meaford as long as we’ve been here, but it turns out that Grace Lambe (fondly referred to as Grandma Lambe) only took over the business named after her mother-in-law the year before we arrived. And it was only a few years before that that an excess of peaches prompted Grace to whip up a bunch of peach pies. “I didn’t want to waste them,” she told Adrian Brijbassi a few weeks back, “so I made the pies and put them out on a stand and they sold. To think, from that came this business.” To begin with, Grace baked the pies and Mabel oversaw the apple sales, and the business quickly grew. Today the family business serves locals and hungry tourists (busloads, sometimes!) drawn by its wares.

Brijbassi’s story taught me a couple of things about the popular (and oft-visited by us) fruit, vegetable, fresh-baking, and more-stand just down the road.

And this video will give you another “taste” of what’s to offer.

posted September 14th, 2011
Apple season a great time for a country drive

Apple season’s here in the “other Big Apple”. The orchards lining the roads around Meaford that were white with blossoms a few short months ago are now heavy with apples, and the farmers’ markets and fruit stands are displaying their ripe, red wares. We picked up our first half-peck of Jersey Macs the other day to bake up some apple crisp, but there’ll be many more varieties available in the days to come.

Meaford apples

Take a country drive around the area, and visit one of these country markets to get your apples (and much more).

Almond’s Fruit Stand
Home baking, jams, birdseed and gifts.
Highway 26 between Lora Bay and Meaford | 519-538-2281

Appletop Farm
Picked organic apples and more.
416476 10th Line, The Blue Mountains 519-599-6177

Barbetta Orchards
On-farm market June through November. Apples, pears, plums, pumpkin squash and more.
Highway 26 just west of Meaford | 519-538-2206

Bay Ridge Orchards Limited
Eight varieties of apples stored in a controlled atmosphere.
7th Line South of Highway 26 | 519-538-1405

Bev Murray Farms
Pick your own apples.
145816 Grey Road 12 west of Meaford | 519-538-3592

Dykstra Farms
Ready picked apples and more.
301 Clark St, Clarksburg | 519-599-9938

The Farmers Pantry
Minutes south of Clarksburg, pick-your-own or ready-picked apples, fresh-grown in season vegetables, baked goods and crafts.
788030 Grey Rd 13, The Blue Mountains | 519-599-3691

Finch Haven Orchards
Apples, fresh pressed cider, non-alcoholic sparkling apple ciders, jams, jellies and preserves, maple syrup, honey, and apple gift boxes.
416241 10th Line, The Blue Mountains | 519-599-7775

Goldsmith Orchards
On-farm market open July to December 9.
Highway 26 between Lora Bay and Thornbury | 519-599-3246

Grandma Lambe’s Fruit Market
Fruits and vegetables, baked goods, honey, maple syrup, gift baskets, candles, and more.
Highway 26 between Lora Bay and Meaford | 519-538-2757

Jones Willow Grove Orchard
496818 Grey Rd 2, The Blue Mountains | 519-599-3668

Oaklane Orchards Ltd
Apples, including pick-your-own.
496445 Grey Rd 2, The Blue Mountains | 519-599-5841

Vail’s Orchards
Cider, apples, jams, maple syrup and fresh produce, September to December Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
 Two locations: Highway 26 west of Meaford and South on Grey Road 7 at west end of Meaford | 519-538-4928

posted May 26th, 2011
Apple blossom time in Meaford

In the blink of an eye, it seems, Meaford’s apple (and cherry) trees are in blossom, and a stroll by one of our orchards can intoxicate you with the scent.

Apple Blossoms in Meaford

Apple Blossoms in Meaford

As early as 1837, settlers on Cape Rich, just northwest of Meaford, had planted McIntosh Red apple seedlings they’d brought with them. They’d planned to be able to harvest the apples from a few trees for themselves, maybe selling a few here and there. But their small orchard soon revealed that the region was perfect for apple growing, with the moderating influence of the Bay and the steep rise of the Niagara Escarpment cradling the microclimate. And it was the beginning of the Southern Georgian Bay apple growing industry.

Today, while industry pressures and new growing practices have brought changes to the traditional apple orchard, you can still pull into your favourite local orchard for such popular varieties as Northern Spy, Russet and McIntosh Red, as well as Empire, Gala, Honey Crisp and others.

(Here’s a list of some local orchards.)

Meaford’s connection to the apple industry is apparent in our tourism booth – a ripe red apple on the main street – and in the Municipality’s new slogan: “the other big apple”.

Meaford's Big Apple Tourism Booth

Meaford's Big Apple Tourism Booth (Courtesy The Meaford Independent -

And in the last few years, a delightful byproduct of our local apples, Peeler Cider, has been growing (pun intended) in popularity. More on that soon.