The Village of Cheltenham and the Spirit Tree Estate Cidery
When creating their business, the couple set out to create an environmentally friendly building, which has actually won them several design and construction innovation awards. The walls of the Spirit Tree Estate Cidery are made of locally harvested straw bales that are covered by stucco, and as such they are made of sustainable materials with a naturally high insulation capacity. The building is heated and cooled with a geothermal system that uses the constant temperature of the ground to regulate the temperature properly in the summer and in the winter.
Lots of local products are on display
Having run a successful farm market and pick-your-own operation for many years, the couple decided they wanted to venture into the cider making industry and took courses about cider making in the United States and in England. They also took several hands-on baking courses which they put to good use with their wood-fired oven where they bake a wide variety of artisan breads, pies and pastry.
Nicole and Thomas get ready to bake some bread
The common area of their operation encompasses a well-designed and attractive retail area that displays a wide assortment of mostly local products, from fruits and vegetables, to cheeses, maple syrup, honey, nuts, dips, jams, jellies and chutneys as well as organic fair trade coffee. An old Victorian-era stove is used to display merchandise, and Nicole added that they were able to locate it at an auction for $5.00.
Nicole rescued this beauty of a Victorian-era stove at an auction
Next door to the retail area is the tasting area where guests can actually try the three types of apple cider products themselves. The company produces fresh pressed sweet applie cider as well as three types of hard cider: English pub-style cider, French-style estate cider and ice cider which harnesses the concentrated sweetness of apples that have frozen several times. The tasting room has a special liquor license so guests get to enjoy a bit of the hard cider as well. My favourite was certainly the ice cider, a sweet nectar that is just perfect after a good meal.
A cider tasting: Original Ice Cider, Estate Reserve Cider and Traditional Pub Cider
Guests can also enjoy various meals, from cheese plates to artisan soups, breads and spreads and various salads. Anybody visiting the Spirit Tree Estate Winery can actually make a day of it. I had a chance to taste a delicious roasted red pepper soup that had just been made, which really hit the spot. The entire environment is inviting and attractive, and the walls are enhanced by paintings by local artists that are rotated on a regular basis.
Delicious roasted red pepper soup
Last but not least, Thomas showed me the outdoor patio which provides a sweeping view over the surrounding farmland and a pond that is frequented by the local ducks. An antique cider press from the Eaton Family Estate in Caledon adorns the patio and puts the significance of cider into historical context. I was truly impressed by what this young couple has created here, and judging by the number of tourism and ecology-related awards that they have received, I am not the only one.
A nice view over the pond from the patio of the Spirit Tree Estate Winery