A young mother of three and the fourth generation of a tenured grain-farming family, one might not guess Missy Dobernigg would become a pioneer of the Okanagan Valley’s cider industry. After meeting her now-husband, Dave, and moving to his third-generation family farm and apple orchard in the valley, cider became the logical step forward. Dobernigg took cider expert Peter Mitchell’s week-long course in 2011, spent several winters making test batches in the shed and finally pulled the trigger launching The BX Press Cidery and Orchard in 2013.
She likes to say the “best ciders are made in the orchard, from branch to bottle,” with all the BX Press cider being produced from apples grown on the family orchard. Dobernigg can select from the more than 30 varieties planted and over 1 million pounds of apples grown each year.
Located in the BX area of Vernon, British Columbia, the BX was the Barnard’s Express and Stage Line, one of the largest and oldest stagecoach companies in North America. The family orchard is on land that was once part of this illustrious company — a story that is told in great detail upon visiting the cidery’s tasting room. This rich history is continued on in the names of The BX Press ciders, which pay tribute to the area with ciders like The Prospector, The Hostler and The Bandit. Here, we chat the present, the future and female empowerment with Dobernigg.
1) There quite a few fires in British Columbia this summer. How will all the smoke affect your 2018 crop and the cider?
The smoke has slowed down the ripening of the apples, and will possibly affect the final sugar levels available, although it is still too early to tell. Thankfully the apples do not seem to be taking on any flavor characteristics from the smoke.
2) You are celebrating your fifth year as a cidery in 2018. What are your dreams for the future?
My dreams for the future with our cidery are to build it to be a place where people can connect with the land and one another through increased opportunities to spend time on the farm. This will include things such as a self-guided horticultural tour through part of the orchard and a picnic area where people can bring a picnic — or buy one — and enjoy cider amongst the same trees that are growing next year’s vintage. We are just completing an addition to our space which will greatly facilitate production logistics and allow for our production seasons to overlap somewhat.
3) What is your favorite cider you are making now and why?
The ciders that I feel most proud of are the ciders that best express the apples — whether it be cider fruit only, a single-varietal Golden Russet or a mix of crabapples and dessert apples. We give them time to mature and leave them very dry, creating a unique opportunity to experience different types of apples. I am also excited this season to step out of my comfort zone with wine yeasts and try some saison and other beer yeasts and see what flavors and characteristics are expressed.
4) What are your favorite tunes to jam to while enjoying a libation in your rare downtime?
There are two different times of my day I really like to have a soundtrack playing. One is when I’m working in the cidery alone, late at night or early morning. Much of my cidermaking during the first few years had to be in the peripherals of the day when Dave was home from the farm and the kids were sleeping. I would often crank strong women leads such as The Cranberries, Fleetwood Mac, Pink or Sheryl Crow. Perhaps this was a subconscious way to celebrate the fact I was wholeheartedly pursuing an ambitious dream while also raising young kids, something women of other generations might not have been able to do and something that is still exhausting to navigate. Even though the past three years I’ve been able to work while the kids are at school, I still love to go up to the cidery in the early morning and work with some of these same strong women backing me. The other time of day I lean into a good playlist is when making dinner but I nearly always choose something calmer such as Tracy Chapman, Ray LaMontagne, The Civil Wars or Noah Kahan.