The name “Maverick” perfectly describes Bertus Albertyn, the fermenter behind Maverick Cider Co. Albertyn produces both wine and cider in Oliver, British Columbia, and even combines the two. He’s out to blaze his own trail in the beverage world and that seems to be paying off with glowing reviews.
Armed with an enology degree from Stellenbosch University in South Africa, Albertyn arrived in the Okanagan Valley in 2009 when his wife, Elzaan, set up her medical practice there. Prior to that his father-in-law had purchased some land in the area destined to become vineyards. Albertyn transformed one of those parcels into a 7.5-acre vineyard. At the same time, he made wine at Burrowing Owl Estate Winery. Then in 2013 he channeled all his efforts into Maverick Cider Co. Here, Albertyn describes his launch into making cider.
1) How and when did you decide to get involved in cidermaking?
I was fortunate enough to be approached by BC Tree Fruits, a large company, to do research on the potential of using edible fresh-market apples in cider production. During this research project, my interest in the making of cider was piqued. After completing the production of cider for my client, I embarked on my own cidermaking and created the Maverick Cider Co.
2) Why do you use eating apples and pears in your cider instead of cider apples?
Braeburn, Granny Smith and Bosc are the current varietals we grow on our farm, which we use in the production of our ciders. My research [for BC Tree Fruits] was based on fresh-market edible apple varietals and while they aren’t traditional cider apples, I like doing some things differently… We are mavericks!
3) What is the best cider you’ve made so far?
At this stage we make three varieties of cider: Apple, Blush and Pear. I feel the best cider we make is the original Apple, which is a blend of Granny Smith and Braeburn apples with a touch of Pinot Gris. I like back-blending our cider with the wine to create a unique flavor profile and plan to do that more in the future.
4) You mentioned your biggest fear is getting into a rut. What are you doing to keep that from happening?
I like to keep challenging the status quo by bringing on new projects to ensure our team is always re-evaluating our practices, honing our skills and looking for continuous improvement. I am always learning and interested in improving both our products and our skills.