Apple processing now underway at McBarleys Brewing Co.

Apple processing now underway at McBarleys Brewing Co.

Business column

It’s a busy time at the Cowichan Valley’s McBarley’s Brewing Co. as the local apple harvest begins in earnest.

Owner David Robinson and his staff processed more than 6,000 pounds of apples into both hard and soft cider in his mobile juice factory, called The Juicer, at the company’s headquarters at 5280 Polkey Rd., on Aug. 17 alone.

He said he expects to process about 100,000 pounds of apples for his many local customers during the apple-harvest season.

McBarley’s has been making cider from local fresh fruit since David and Victoria Robinson took over the business in 2009.

The Juicer, which McBarley’s acquired last year, is custom-built with the latest technology, the highest-quality stainless steel and the finest European craftsmanship.

“Aug. 17 was our first big apple-processing day of the season, and we’re just kicking into gear,” Robinson said.

For further information regarding services, pricing and events, check out the website, call the office at 250-748-8440, or David directly at 250-715-8609.

Home Tools carries variety of household accessories

A new shop specializing mainly in tools and household accessories has opened in Duncan.

Home Tools, located on Trunk Road across from Save-on-Food, was opened on Aug. 15 by Jessie Sui and Duo Han.

As well as a wide variety of tools, Home Tools’ inventory also includes kitchen utensils, carpets, lights and even sandals.

Sui said the couple live in Victoria and considered opening a store there, but rent is cheaper in Duncan and they saw a niche they can fill locally.

“Our prices are very competitive and, while it may take a little bit of time for customers to see that, we think it will be beneficial for the business as we go,” she said.

“We’re commuting between Victoria and Duncan for now, and we’ll see how the business goes. It has been great so far.”

Tickets available for Valley Wine Festival this weekend

The Cowichan Valley Wine Festival is coming up on Aug 24-26.

The tasting launch event to kick of the weekend will be held at 6 p.m. on Aug. 24 at Shawnigan Lake School featuring all 11 participating wineries and live music by the Smiley Band.

This is a ticketed event.

Tickets for the event are $35 and include the tasting glass that will be your ticket to access the wineries all weekend.

Tickets are available at, but purchasing your glass for $15 at a participating winery will get you access to all festival venues and free tastings.

You can also purchase a ticket online and redeem it at the first winery you visit to receive your glass.

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Official pumpkin weigh-off scheduled for October

The Cowichan Valley will host a giant pumpkin weigh-off at the Old Farm Market on Oct. 13.

Organizer Glenn Dixon, who was instrumental in organizing the B.C. Great Pumpkin Commonwealth (GPC) Certified World Recognized Giant Pumpkin Weighoff in Vancouver when it first began more than a decade ago, said the weigh-off at the Old Farm Market is open to anyone from anywhere who wants to enter.

“I recently retired to Mill Bay and I thought it would be a great idea to have a pumpkin weigh-off that was sanctioned by the GPC here on the Island,” he said.

“It’s a way of giving back to our farming heritage, supporting local growers and bringing the community together. I’m hoping to bring in competitors from Washington, Oregon, Vancouver Island and the rest of B.C.”

Dixon said the event will be sanctioned by the Great Pumpkin Commonwealth, which sets the standards for competitions, as well as supplying the ribbons and plaques for the winners.

He said those wishing to register ahead of time for the weigh-off can do so by going to, or they can register when they arrive at the competition.

Dixon said he’s also seeking sponsorships for the weigh-off with local companies, who will provide the winners with cash prizes or merchandise.

Those looking to help sponsor the event can go to, or call Dixon directly at 604-626-8898.

Cider Harvest Festival coming to Merridale

Merridale Cidery & Distillery will host the second annual Cider Harvest Festival on Sept. 30 at its farm and orchard in Cobble Hill.

Bringing together fifteen of B.C.’s top craft cideries, the festival will focus on the art of craft cider, allowing attendees to taste the products and meet the makers.

With over a dozen new cideries popping up across the province in recent years, craft cider has become a drink of choice for BC’s discerning audience, joining the ranks of craft beer and fine wines.

The festival isn’t only for cider lovers, but for anyone who is interested in the concept of craft, especially with a focus on BC products.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased online at for $15, with an optional add-on for shuttle transportation from Victoria and Duncan.

“We’re really looking forward to hosting this event again in September,” said Merridale’s co-owner Janet Docherty.

“We’re bringing together some of the best craft cideries in BC and everyone who attends will have a chance to sample the product and get excited about craft cider.”