Thomas was born and raised on the family farms in Caledon. Growing up he spent a lot of time working at his grandfather’s orchard, Wilson’s Orchard, which had been a working orchard in Caledon since 1952.
Thomas attended the University of Windsor and graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor of Arts in History. Thomas returned home to manage the family fruit farm for his parents. In 2002, the year they were married, Thomas and Nicole purchased the farm from his parents and began exploring what to do with it. After much soul searching they decided to sell the farm and move a short distance to develop a new apple orchard that would become Spirit Tree Estate Cidery in 2009.
Thomas is actively involved in the craft cider industry and local community. He is currently the Chair of Ontario Craft Cider Association, leading the negotiations for a Craft Cider Program. He is also a past President of the Golden Horseshoe Soil and Crop Improvement Association, a previous Director with the Peel Federation of Agriculture and sat on the Caledon Agricultural Advisory Committee. As the Owner and General Manager of Spirit Tree you will usually find Tom baking in the wood-fired oven or working on the cider in the cellar, pruning in the orchard or mowing the grass, training staff or serving customers in the Ciderhouse Bistro.
Favourite thing about being a Cider Maker, Baker and Business owner: Experimenting with different combinations that excite our customers. Almost like being a drug dealer but legal!
Food philosophy: Simple, traditional foods expressed to perfection
Favourite Pet: Bramley, our Irish wolf hound / grey hound cross.
Favourite Cider: Draught
Favourite Apple: Cortland fresh off the tree in September
Favourite bread: Caledon Sour Dough
Something that’s on your bucket list: Eating, drinking and touring my way across northern Spain (Basque) with Nicole and our son
Born and raised in Caledon by her Irish mother and British father, cider is in her blood. A love of animals from an early age led Nicole to veterinary medicine.
Nicole graduated from the University of Guelph in 1995 with a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree. Upon graduation, Nicole worked for 5 years in private small animal practice in Caledon. Nicole met Thomas in 1999 and became an active part of the orchard business while continuing to work at the clinic. In 2000, Nicole joined Hill’s Pet Nutrition and spent eight years working in various roles from Veterinary Account Manger, Customer Marketing Manager and District Sales Manager for the Veterinary Business for Central & Eastern Canada.
She is currently the Chief Operating Officer for the Ontario Veterinary Group, a group of 6 veterinary hospitals located in Toronto, Whitby and Ottawa.
You’ll find Nicole at the cidery on weekends; working in the office, chasing her busy toddler around the shop or chatting with customers in the bakery.
Executive Chef & Culinary Director
Born to immigrant parents from Fiji Islands, Nelson was introduced to unique tastes, exotic ingredients and spices from a young age. His parents ingrained a fundamental appreciation for food during his upbringing, which transformed into an ideology in his adult years.
“Our producers and suppliers dictate the menu here at Spirit Tree, what’s fresh and local. We'd rather work with the farmers and their hardships in the growing season, rather than against them and demand constant supply.”
In 2010, Nelson attended university for sustainable agriculture and food systems. Limited by the cafeteria food program at the university, he set en route to the nearest market and began to cook his own meals within his dorm. This in turn ignited an intense passion for the craft of cooking, and later found himself explaining to family and friends that he would pursue a career in the culinary arts. After graduating culinary school, Nelson would train in fine dining establishments both internationally and locally in Caledon, managing his first kitchen at 19 years old.
“The world of food is ever changing, as cooks we are constantly and consistently learning and that’s what drives us daily.”
Dedicated to serving honest food, using both traditional methods and modern technique, Nelson manages the kitchen at Spirit Tree Estate Cidery as both an institution of gastronomic evolution as well as an establishment dedicated to nostalgic culinary experiences.
“With a strong importance on locality and community we have completely surrendered ourselves to the exploration of food, ingredient and technique”
Sabrina Butt lives in Brampton Ontario, she comes from a family who celebrates diversity and a strong appreciation for culinary experiences. At the age of three she watched her grandfather creating an endless fusion of indo-african dishes for everyone to have. He would use food as a way to bring everyone together, this is what sparked her passion for the culinary industry. Throughout high school she continued her passion by competing in skills competitions and learning the art of French cuisine.
Sabrina worked at her first restaurant in Mississauga at West50 Pourhouse where she got the opportunity to learn may different styles of cooking and got to meet many chefs from around the world. She attended Niagara College for the Culinary Management program, where she had the opportunity to travel and work in Jasper Alberta as a line cook. Living in the Niagara region Sabrina gained an appreciation for local produce. She also continued her education at Niagara College and completed her Bachelors degree of applied business in Hospitality Operations Management. Throughout her 5 years she ventured out to local businesses to created relationships with many members within the food and wine industry.
Her inspiration comes from her family and everywhere she travels, working as the Sous Chef at Spirit Tree allows her to share her passion for food with the team and also continue supporting local farming within the greater Caledon area.
Phil Bourque (aka Phil Nye the Cider Guy) comes to Spirit Tree all the way from the tiny fishing town of Pubnico, NS. After getting a degree in Criminology at St Mary’s University in Halifax, he decided there weren’t nearly enough cider drinking prospects so happily fell into a cider making role at Spirit Tree in the summer of 2015. He had the chance to complete a Cider Making course with Peter Mitchell in Gloucester, UK in February 2016, which continued to contribute to his love of cider making (and of course, drinking!). When he's not a Spirit Tree, you can usually find Phil fishing, camping or hanging out with his super fantastic wife, Kaitlin!
Favourite thing about being a cider maker: creating (and sampling) new recipes
Favourite Cider: Draught
Favourite Apple: Tollman Sweet
Favourite Bread: Tartine
Favourite pet: His dog, Hercules (but don’t tell the cat!)
Something that’s on Phil’s Bucket List: Take a trip to Southeast Asia
Ciderhouse Bistro Manager
Kyla was born and raised out west in beautiful Calgary, Alberta . She made the long journey to Caledon, Ontario in August of 2016. With a long history of restaurant management and service industry experience (13 years to be exact) Kyla has now found her home as our Ciderhouse Bistro Manger .
Some fun facts about Kyla:
Her dad nicknamed her baby beluga due to being a very chubby baby!
She has two cats, one is named Flossy and the other is named Oliver (who are also both a bit chubby) but we won't tell them that...
Kyla enjoys golfing and fishing and can't wait to enjoy her first Ontario summer.
Something on Kyla's bucket bucket list is to take a trip to Prague, Czechoslovakia where her mother was born.
Favourite Cider: Dry Hopped
Favourite Apple : Honey Crisp
Favourite bread: Tartine
Favourite Dog : Bramley (our spirit tree mascot)
Shanelle Orie was born in Trinidad and migrated to Caledon, Ontario at the age of three. Shanelle acquired a love for planning events while helping her mom plan her very own Spice Girl themed birthday. Ever since then she has always helped family and friends capture their vision to create their dream event. She completed Events Coordinator program at WPIC. After several years of running her own event services, Shanelle headed back to school to embark on her passion for hospitality. She attended George Brown College for Food and Beverage Management. While in school Shanelle experimented with food techniques and pairings which allow her to help her clients pick a unique menu that compliments their event. In her spare time you can often find her cooking or entertaining friends.
Favourite Cider: Pear or Pumpkin
Favourite Apple: MacIntosh
Favourite Bread: Tartine
Favourite pet: Samantha (Collie) & Mac (chihuahua)
Something that’s on Shanelle's Bucket List: Travel to East Asia
Tiegan Armstrong, also known as Tiegs, is a local who grew up in Caledon on one of Ontario's largest dairy farms. There she learned the importance of hard work and working at all times of the day because the cows wait for no one. She attended Guelph University and studied Hospitality. She learned about Spirit Tree through a family friend, and once she tried the ciders there was no going back. When she's not at Spirit Tree she is most probably in her pjs reading a book, playing dodgeball or hanging out with friends.
Favourite Cider: Sparkling Crabapple (anything with Crabapples!)
Favourite Bread: Normandy Apple
Favourite Apple: Mutsu
Favourite Pet: Chloe, my family's calico cat
Something on Tiegan's Buckt list: Go Skydiving!
Natasha Jones (Tasha) joined Spirit Tree Cider Estate in January 2017 and brings her extensive experience and skill in Office Administration, Hospitality, Retail and Customer Service to the team. She grew up in Barrie Ontario, where she learned a deep love of gardening from her parents. Many hours were spent in the family “Veggie Patch” nurturing summer crops of beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, radishes and other garden goodies. In the warm seasons, Natasha spends time in her own backyard tending (and talking) to her ‘oasis’ of veggies, plants, trees, and flowers. She believes plants grow bigger when encouraged by sunlight, rain water and loving words. Natasha believes deeply in her philosophy of ‘homegrown and homemade’. “Love and care, is the best way to nourish and charge the soul”. Nothing makes her feel more fulfilled than preparing a big pot of soup using ingredients from her own, and locally sourced gardens, and inviting others to share. Tasha likes to spend free time with family and friends, and her two adorable cats; Stella and Boddington.
Favourite Bread: Normandy Apple
Favorite Apple: Gala
Favorite Cider: Spirit Tree Winter Bliss