Merridale Estate Cidery and the Big Yellow School Bus

A wonderful friend of mine had a great idea to rent a school bus, get a group of friends together and do a tour of some of the many wineries on Southern Vancouver Island this weekend. 

We had such a great time and it felt just like a grown up school field trip, which I personally miss from school.  If only workplaces did more field trips, I think people would be much happier and more productive.

We ended up going to about 5 wineries but I'm only going to write about one today because it stood head and shoulders above the rest...and it wasn't even technically a winery, but rather a cidery.

Merridale Estate Cidery is one of those places that seems to have done everything right.  Their products are amazing, their staff are accomodating and immeasurably kind and their property is jaw droppingly gorgeous.  I could have easily thrown a blanket out on the lawn under the apple trees and spent the whole day there...hell, the whole weekend!

Found in the Cowichan Valley, Merridale Cidery allows visitors to wander the grounds and distillery, partake of tastings in the main building and enjoy lunch in the quaint bistro or lounge on the large patio overlooking the orchard.  Out back, their open air bakery was so inviting with the scent of freshly baked breads filling the air.  Down the hill and tucked away amongst the trees is a spa where you can get a mani-pedi or spend a whole day with one of their spa packages.  I'll definitely be going back for that!

Merridale was incredibly accomodating for our large group of 26.  They graciously asked to split us up into groups of 13 in order to partake in the tastings .  The host was so funny, warm and genuine when he spoke about the Cidery's products that you couldn't help but want to work there!  I may just have to look into that!
In the end, I bought two bottles of cider and one of their foccacia loaves which is undeniably the best foccacia I have ever had and may have only lasted a couple hours before every last crumb was devoured.  There is no doubt I will be travelling the 45 minutes again if only for that bread...that being said I wouldn't leave without lunch and another bottle or two of cider.

They are doing some pretty cool things with apples at Merridale and I'm super excited that my little island can boast such an amazing product.  I only wish I had known about it 5 years ago as it is exactly where I envisioned my wedding taking place.  Maybe a ten year renewal of vows is in order?

If you find yourself on the island or if you live here and need something new to do, get your butts to Merridale and give yourself a few hours to really get to know this island gem!