It was a sunny June day with perfect white fulffy clouds drifting over the rolling golden hills in the Cariboo. The winding road snaked up the hillside, above Vernon, to the BX Press cidery. We arrived at the cidery building set beside the apple orchard, the trees were covered with clusters of small immature green apples. There was a tasting in progress and while waiting we looked over the displays of cider and , the names of the ciders caught our attention, there was ,Crackwhip,The Bandit, and Hostler
We sat on the patio,that looked over the orchard, with the rows of stout apple trees that marched up the hillside. When our tasting experience began, the host explained the history of the property going back to the 1860’s and how the cider’s names came about.
The property where BX Press is located is part of 6000 acres Barnard bought on the hillside above Vernon for a horse ranch. He returned to New Mexico and drove 400 horses back to Vernon. The horses were the start of a two horse wagon transportation company that grew to have multiple 6 horse stage coaches running from Yale to Barkervile. Barnards express secured the mail contract with the government of BC and a contract for the crown to transport the gold out of Barkerville. The stage coach line continued to run under various owners until 1926. The rail line came to the Cariboo in 1884, and stage coaches gradually became a part of history.
It was a great story and the ciders excellent. They are quite dry, but they balance out the selection with some slightly sweet ciders so there is a cider for all tastes.
Not long after the hold-up, Sam Rowlands started making large deposits of gold at the Ashcroft bank, claiming he had struck it rich at nearby Scottie creek. This sparked a mini-goldrush to the area. Not surprisingly, no one other than Rowlands ever found gold and he, conveniently, only when by himself.
Soon enough the authorities became suspicious and held back some of the gold from Rowland’s deposits. They were able to examine it and determine that it had not come from Scottie creek, but rather several creeks, most likely in the vicinity of Barkerville – the same place the stolen gold had come from. Rowlands was arrested and sentenced to 12 years in the New Westminister penitentiary. He broke out after serving only two years and no one ever found him or the rest of the gold again. So maybe that gold is still out there somewhere.
Hostler cider is a light desert apple cider with a fruity apple taste, with the addition of crabapple to give a crisp complexity. Named after the men, Hostler’s, who looked after the stage coach horses. They manned the stopping houses every 18 miles along the Cariboo road where the tired horses were changed out for a fresh team. The towns of 100 mile house and 150 mile house were stopping houses named for the distance from mile 0 on the Cariboo road at lioette. The Hostlers were the men that kept the stage coach running consistently for many years, by taking care of the horses.
Prospector cider is named after the men who risked life and limb in the Cariboo gold fields of the 1860’s These men came from all walks of life and as many as 30,000 flocked to the Cariboo making the journey from San Francisco by steamer to Vancouver, Fort Langley, and Yale at the head of Navigation for the paddlewheelers, on the Fraser River. They travelled by stage coach or foot and spread out over the Cariboo in search of the next big strike Prospector cider is the driest cider BX makes. from rare cider and heirloom apple varieties, with high tannin levels that give layered aromatics and a pleasant lingering finish.
The botanical series include:
Cardamom BlackCurrant (spring)
Lavender Raspberry (summer)
Cranberry Cinnamon (fall)
Vanilla Plum (winter)
You can find out more information about BX Press on their website at https://thebxpress.com/
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