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.
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 and daughter, Ava!
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
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!