Mont Saint-Hilaire is said to be the paradise of apple and we own a corner of this heaven since fourth generations. Les Vergers Petit et Fils are known for producing the best apples in the Quebec. Les Vergers Petit et Fils are the pioneers in the apple transformation, especially for cider in Mont Saint-Hilaire. They distinguished themselves by the exceptional quality of their products.
CIDER AND THE PETIT FAMILY
Each fall, for over a century, the Petit family welcomes thousands of people for the annual apple harvest. This traditional family event is very popular in the region and is an experience to live at least once in a lifetime. The apple inspired our family to create new culinary experiences. In the 70's this inspiration led us to transform this tasty fruit into cider.
Historically, in 1921, the cider was forgotten in the Société des Alcools du Québec's legislation (known as the Liquor Commission). Cider production was still active then, but done discretely, in small quantities and only inside family homes. It's in 1970 that cider was finally made available to the public on the market to purchase from the shelves. At that time, Jean-Noël Petit, a third generation Petit, decided to start his own cider production sold on his property. Jean-Noël succesfully produce a little more than 100 000 bottles a year from his traditional installations, during good years. The 70's were hard years for small producers in Québec. As the cider popularity had grown, large companies introduced on the market industrial made product. The quality of the cider suffered as did its reputation. Those mass consumption ciders, not ripe enough, dragged down the market. Traditional producers, like Jean-Noël Petit, started again their family production.
The 80's helped the small producers with new legislation, recognizing artisanal cider production. Producers could now sell their products on the shelves. Stéphane Petit then decided to open his Cider house, la Cidrerie des Vergers Petit, offering two ciders: a new sparkling cider and a strong traditional cider, both made from family recipes.
Inspired by the harsh winters and the quality of the ciders produced in the Quebec, some producers introduce, in early 2000, a new product to fill a new gastronomical demand. Ice cider was the innovation to restore cider to its deserved rank with Quebec products. Thanks to the four winter winds in the hearts of Les Vergers Petit et Fils for Petit Frisson, the ice cider introduced for the first time in 2000 and it has since been receiving critical acclaim and high honors.
Although the magnificence of the Vallée-du-Richelieu captured us at first sight, it was primarily for the richness of the soil that our family decided to locate his orchards in Mont Saint-Hilaire. In fact, more than 10,000 years ago, salted waters from various ice ages were covering a large part of the Quebec. This stretch of water is best known as « Mer de Champlain ». After receding, the Mer de Champlain left rich deposits on the Monteregian soil, increasing the agricultural potential.
The mountainous and rocky soil also plays a big part here. Apart from the drainage efficiency, the geological properties of the lands surrounding Mont St-Hilaire help store more heat during daylight each season.
Quebec's climate is known for its long winters and shorts summers. Located on the south side of the mountain, Les Vergers Petit et Fils are protected by the Mont St-Hilaire. Actually, the Monteregian neighbouring orchards are often spared by harmful raging weather. Furthermore, Vergers Petit et Fils, steep slope offers a better air currents circulation, protecting the orchards from early and late ground frost, sometime devastating for the next harvests.
Learning from the well-known harsh winter of the Quebec, it's from a winter's small chill at the heart of our orchards that we have expanded our know-how in ice cider making.
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