Dave and Melissa Dobernigg, BX Press Cidery
Dave and Melissa Dobernigg opened The BX Press Cidery in Vernon last year, hand crafting four premium full juice ciders. Response was overwhelming – they sold out in less than three months. This year they have more than tripled production to 20,000 litres. The BX Press was nominated for awards by the Vernon Chamber of Commerce for best new business and best manufacturer.
The BX Press is a branch-to-bottle operation, named after the beautiful BX area where the cidery and orchard are located in the North Okanagan. Dave and Melissa grow 24 varieties of apples, press, then ferment, mature and fill more than 40,000 bottles of cider right on the orchard.
The cidery crafts four blends, including cherry and hopped cider. With names like Prospector and Bandit, the BX Press cider reflects the unique history of the Barnard’s Express Stagecoach Company.
Dave and Melissa sell their preservative free ciders in local farmer’s markets and private liquor stores in the Interior and Vancouver. They employ about 12 seasonal orchard workers and one staff member at their tasting room, which opens in May.
The Doberniggs are third generation orchardists. Dave’s grandfather bought the 40-acre orchard in 1946 and Dave and Melissa live there now with their three daughters. They fell in love with craft cider but opened BX Press after Melissa researched value-added options and found that demand for quality cider was on the rise.
“Cider production in the United States, especially the west coast, has increased dramatically over the past few years and is the fastest growing beverage category,” Melissa explains. “Cider consumption is also on the rise in Canada.”
What was the biggest challenge of starting a business?
“Finances,” says Dave. “We were laughed out of the bank at first.”
But the Doberniggs persisted, even doing contract work on new buildings themselves to save money.
“Managing a 40-acre farm, and balancing a new business with raising three kids is a lot of work. It’s been an intense couple of years.”