Bruce McKinlay is the owner of Valley Cider Company, which produces 20 different varieties of cider. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Bruce McKinlay is the owner of Valley Cider Company, which produces 20 different varieties of cider. (Robert Barron/Citizen)

Business notes: The Valley Cider Company produces about 15,000 litres of cider per year

The latest from the Cowichan Valley business community

Apples are the world to Bruce McKinlay.

McKinlay, the owner of the Valley Cider Company, was the owner of a small IT company in Vancouver before his wife convinced him six years ago that it was time to leave the pressures of the big city behind and buy a farm.

So McKinlay bought a 27-acre property on Mays Road and built a 5,000 sq. ft. cidery which is currently processing approximately 60,000 pounds of apples per year, which produces about 15,000 litres of cider.

He said the apples mainly come from orchards on his property, other orchards in the Valley and he has a partnership with local organizations that glean apples from private properties to obtain apples for his cidery.

McKinlay said that while all ciders are apple based, he uses other locally produced ingredients — like blackberries, raspberries and maple sap — to make 20 different types of cider.

“We sell cider all over the south Island to restaurants, pubs, and breweries,” he said.

“But we don’t want to sell off-Island at this time. I didn’t start this business to make a lot of money, I did it mainly for the lifestyle. It’s as big as I want it right now with just me and one employee and I love doing it.”


Sustainability, slow living and organic are just a few words that entrepreneur Mariah Stockton uses to describe her new business, Beaux Boheme, located at 1770 Shawnigan Mill/Bay Rd.

Stockton said a few years ago when she was furnishing her home, she noticed an abundance of excellent used furniture listed on the internet and in thrift shops.

“I realized I could find quality stylish furniture for a much more affordable price,” she said.

“I soon realized there was a market for vintage home goods so I started selling items online. Wanting to expand my sales I experimented with a couple of pop-up shops in my yard last summer and in Nanaimo.”

Stockton said last fall, while on a walk through Shawnigan Village, she noticed a storefront up for rent and, even though she was five months pregnant and a mom to a busy toddler, she decided she wanted to take her business further.

“I also decided I would expand my business by including a curated collection of clothing for moms and kids,” she said.

“With summer coming, I noticed the absence of healthy drink options in the village. I took yet another big step and expanded my storefront to include a smoothie bar. The smoothie bar offers superfood smoothies, organic popsicles and other healthy options. Beaux Boheme smoothie bar opened last weekend with much fanfare and success. I’ve realized this was absolutely the right way to proceed in my business plan. I really look forward to serving my customers in the future.”


This summer, the team at Blue Grouse Estate Winery commemorates 10 years since Paul, Cristina and Paula Brunner purchased the property from the Kiltz family, who owned and operated the winery from 1989 to 2012.

Over the past decade, many things have evolved at the Cowichan Valley-based winery, including a modernized tasting room, vineyard expansions, and a celebrated visitor experience.

To mark #TheBlueGrouchDecade, special offers are available this summer, including celebratory glasses of sparkling wine for only $10, a special flat shipping fee of $10 for online purchases, as well as a “bubble bar” pop-up on the mezzanine in August.


Paper Excellence, owner of Catalyst Crofton, has partnered with Vancouver Island University to create a new scholarship fund that aims to financially support Indigenous students enrolled in trades programs at VIU.

Paper Excellence has contributed $60,000 to the fund, which will be distributed over three years.

Indigenous trades students will be eligible to receive up to $2,000 each academic year through the fund, which began disbursements to students in January, 2023.

The Paper Excellence Indigenous Success Fund at VIU is one of several scholarship and bursary funds Paper Excellence has supported at post-secondary institutions around Canada, along with similar partnerships at College of the Rockies, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, and Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology.

“On behalf of Paper Excellence, we are very excited to be working with VIU on the Paper Excellence Indigenous Success Fund to support Indigenous students in British Columbia,” said Graham Kissack, vice president of corporate communications for Paper Excellence.

“It’s our pleasure to help make the experience at VIU just a little bit easier financially and want to wish the recipients of the fund all the best in their studies and future careers.”


Clements’ Sundrops Centre for Child Development is pleased to announce the community has successfully matched Island Ford Superstore’s $20,000 matching donation, collectively raising more than $40,000 to support local children and families.

Launched in April, the Best Possible Start Campaign sought to raise funds for and awareness of Clements’ branch of service that provides unique developmental supports for children within the Cowichan region.

The fundraising campaign was completed with a $1,500 donation from OodyOos Pet Store.

Island Ford Superstore general manager Justin Pambrun said the business is proud to sponsor Clements Centre and support the Sundrops community.

“We think this is a great way to show that we’re a dedicated part of this wonderful community and are grateful to all the local organizations doing this important work,” he said.

Each year, Sundrops provides programs and services to more than 800 children and their families to support their early physical, cognitive, social, and emotional development.

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