Windsor·Pinto on Food

Find award-winning hard cider off a dirt road in Thedford

Jonathan Pinto pays a visit to Lambton County's Twin Pines Orchards and Cider House.

Jonathan Pinto pays a visit to Twin Pines Orchards and Cider House

Mark, Alma and Mike Vansteenkiste run Twin Pines Orchards and Cider House in Thedford. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

For what seems to be a growing segment of the population, the pumpkin spice latte is the embodiment of "fall food."

But for me, it's apples.

So to celebrate the official start of fall, I decided to visit Twin Pines Orchards and Cider House.

Kennedy Line is literally a dirt road. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Located off a dirt road near Thedford, a community of Lambton Shores, Ont., it's fair to say that Twin Pines is off the beaten path. I'd heard about the place from a few farming friends who had nothing but high praise, especially for their award winning hard ciders.

Unlike many cider makers, Twin Pines is a true orchard to glass operation, with about 16 hectares (40 acres) of apple trees, massive tanks for fermenting and storing, and bottling machinery. My favourite part was the pressing room, which Twin Pines used to make juice for their own cider.

They also supply juice to other craft cider makers in Ontario.


The apples are loaded onto a conveyor belt, cleaned, then elevated into the press, which pumps the juice into a nearby tank. Can't see the GIF? Click here.

The Vansteenkistes have been farming the land since the late 1960s, when Joe and Alma Vansteenkiste moved to the area from London. After decades of simply producing apples, the family realized it was harder and harder to make money, and they'd have to produce value-added products turn a profit.

That's when Mark and Mike Vansteenkiste — Joe and Alma's sons — decided to leave their jobs and help the family farm transition to the world of traditional hard cider.

Why you can't use any old apple for hard cider

4 years ago
Duration 1:14
Mark Vansteenkiste from Twin Pines Orchards and Cider House in Thedford, Ont. talks about the special apples used to make their hard ciders.

After a decade of tinkering with the right recipes and apples, Twin Pines opened its hard cider operation about 15 years ago — and they've been winning awards ever since.

Twin Pines has won a lot of awards, including 'best in show' at the 2014 Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition, which is largest of its kind in the world. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

Tap on the audio player to hear more.

Twin Pines Orchards and Cider House is at 8169 Kennedy Line in Thedford. While you can find their ciders in many local restaurants and bars, you won't find it at the LCBO — so you'll have to go straight to the source.

And yes, there's a tasting room.

A bottle of Twin Pines' Hammer Bent Red cider. (Jonathan Pinto/CBC)

CBC Windsor reporter Jonathan Pinto travels across southwestern Ontario as Afternoon Drive's "food dude." Know of a place you think he should check out? Email him at jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca or on Twitter @jonathan_pinto.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Pinto is the host of Up North, CBC Radio One's regional afternoon show for Northern Ontario and is based in Sudbury. He was formerly a reporter/editor and an associate producer at CBC Windsor. Email jonathan.pinto@cbc.ca.

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