A sun sets above the orchard as the new indoor restaurant fills with laughter. Inside, guests bond over the season’s craft cider and artisan farm-to-table food. It’s an image that lies on the horizon for The BX Press Cidery.
If you had asked her when she opened the cidery, Missy Dobernigg would have told you that the cidery would never serve food. Now, more than eight years into the business that’s kept her family’s orchard alive, Dobernigg is preparing to do just that. When the cidery closes for the season in the fall, massive renovations to the iconic outdoor-only ciderhouse will begin.
“It’s lovely here when the weather is perfect, but not having indoor dining limits our season to three months,” says Dobernigg. “It’s a very different experience if you’re here during a thunderstorm compared to a beautiful sunny day.”
This year, Dobernigg extended the covered outdoor patio so guests can enjoy the cidery and its woodfire flatbread regardless of the weather. When construction begins in the fall, Dobernigg said the new patio will come down and the building will expand to add indoor seating and a commercial kitchen that overlooks the orchard.
“We’re seeing the demand for indoor dining. People really want a farm-to-table experience where they can connect with their food and its origins,” says Dobernigg. “It’s an opportunity that, right now, feels like a logical way for the business to expand. We would always regret it if we don’t take this opportunity.”
As Dobernigg prepares to renovate the cidery and make the most of the beauty of the orchard, she’s building connections with local growers and producers to craft the menu. Currently, the BX Press serves thin-crust flatbreads and charcuterie boards.
“We’re focused on farm-to-table dining as we grow the business. Our concept is unique for Vernon. With the expansion, we’d like to be able to expand the menu to reflect this passion,” Dobernigg says. “We take great care with the ingredients in our ciders. We use real fruit, never any artificial flavouring, and the apples are all grown right here in our orchard. We want our food to be the same way.”
Before the indoor dining overlooking the apple trees opens to the public, Dobernigg is starting the transition to full organic production at the orchard. That transition began in 2021 and will take roughly three seasons to complete.
“It will be a big change for the farm that will help balance the business,” she says. “We use about half of the apples we grow in the cidery, and the rest go to BC Tree Fruits for the fresh market.”
From the plans for an indoor commercial kitchen and seating to a fully organic orchard, Dobernigg says the business is expanding to support the needs of the community.
“When we were one of few craft cideries in the province, it was easy to get on the liquor store shelf. Now, there are close to 40 of us all vying for those same four shelves. But what we have here at the orchard is unique to and we want to share it,” says Dobernigg.
“The community has been amazing to us. Rather than pushing wholesale, we want to build our business in a direction the people in Vernon want to support.”
As growth at the iconic North Okanagan orchard ramps up, Dobernigg says she is thankful for the support of like-minded entrepreneurs in Momentum, Community Futures North Okanagan’s business accelerator for women.
“There are some really inspiring women in the program,” says Dobernigg. “Running a business can be isolating. You’re never off. Having that intentional time to connect with other women entrepreneurs running the same grind is mentally uplifting.”
Through Momentum, Dobernigg secured funding for professional photography to promote her business, legal advice on contracts, and enlisted an HR specialist to aid in growing the cidery’s staff.
“Having access to these professionals has made a huge difference for my business,” says Dobernigg. “It’s had a tangible impact through available government funding and intangible impact through its discussion topics and speakers.”
But, most of all, Dobernigg is thankful for her community, both in Momentum and Vernon as a whole.
“I’m so grateful that opportunities continue to open up and that the community continues to stand behind us in whatever direction we take the cidery.”
Are you interested in learning more about Momentum, our business accelerator for women entrepreneurs? Visit CF North Okanagan online at futuresbc.com.