Botanical garden offers tasting tour of heirloom fruit at apple festival

British Columbia first rooted its fruit industry on apples, although recently most of the public buzz about agriculture in the province has been about its world-class wine industry.

VANCOUVER — British Columbia first rooted its fruit industry on apples, although recently most of the public buzz about agriculture in the province has been about its world-class wine industry.

You can arrange wine tasting tours at a wide number of beautiful wine estates, and sample some of the best in culinary treasures the province has to offer.

But there is still a deep tree fruit heritage in the province that offers tastings of its own.

Over 60 apple varieties will be available for tasting at UBC Botanical Garden’s 19th annual festival dedicated to the fruit, set for Oct. 17 and 18.

They include new and heritage apples grown in B.C.’s Okanagan and Fraser valleys, say organizers.

There will also be demonstrations of grafting and cider-pressing, and master gardeners will discuss apple-related diseases and pest management.

The event has grown “amazingly” in popularity, says Moya Drummond, one of the organizers.

“It gives people a chance to try different types of apples,” she said. Annual attendance ranges from 11,000 to 14,000 visitors.

Drummond says her favourite apple is the new variety “topaz”: “It is crisp and crunchy and has a fantastic flavour.”

The garden is a department of the faculty of land and food systems at the University of British Columbia.

For details, visit www.ubcbotanicalgarden.org/events/applefest.php

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