Elderberry Bros. Farms sells schnapps and more

The Cranbrook, B.C., farm wants to be the largest elderberry farm in North America

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Attila Lepsis standing in front of distillery.

Informally, the farm is called the Elder Bros. Farms & Distillery. — Virginia Rasch photo

A local Kootenay farm is already the biggest elderberry farm in British Columbia but the owners are shooting to be the largest elderberry farm in North America.

Located just outside of Cranbrook, the Elder Bros. Farms is currently producing three flavours of schnapps: Elderflower & Honey, Elderflower & Cherry, and Cherry & Honey. The honey comes from the farm’s 12 beehives. The schnapps are available in many Kootenay liquor stores, across B.C. and soon to be expanding into Alberta.

American elderberries are native to North America and are growing in popularity. The tall shrub thrives in moist soil. The Indigenous Peoples of Canada use elderberry as a medicinal plant, and it’s popular in herbalism as well. But the edible blackish fruit is used in many other ways, including pies.

Attila Lepsis standing in elderberry field.

Attila Lepsis exudes enthusiasm for all things elderberry. — Virginia Rasch photo

“The elderberry has a sweet-tart, strong earthy taste,” said Attila Lepsis, one of three owners of the Elder Bros. Farms. “It’s quite delicious, and it’s really tasty when you add a touch of honey.”

The farm will also sell elderberry juice, elderberry and honey juice, and fresh elderberries once the berries ripen in September.

A bottle of Elderflower and Honey Schapps from the Elder Bros. Farms & Distillery.

A bottle of Elderflower and Honey Schapps from the Elder Bros. Farms & Distillery. — Virginia Rasch photo

Unfortunately, the widespread fires impacted last year’s crop.

“The 2018 harvest wasn’t as good as we hoped,” said Attila. “The smoke from the forest fires was blocking the sunshine and there was no photosynthesis, so most of our elderberries stayed green and never ripened.”

Currently, the farm has over 5,000 elderberry bushes but more are planted each year with a goal of 20,000 plants.

“Once we have enough elderberries, hopefully this season, we should have a few thousand pounds,” Attila said. “Then we can start selling them fresh, frozen and juiced as well. We have lots of future plans—elderberry wine is one of them down the road.”

The farm is owned by Attila and his wife, Neomi, and a friend from Hungary, Attila Szarka. The couple hopes their sons, Cyrus and Damian, will take over the farm someday, hence the word brothers in the farm’s name.

Virginia Rasch

Virginia is a writer and copy editor with Koocanusa Publications. She is an avid outdoor recreationist in all seasons and has lived in the Kootenays for 10 years. With degrees in the natural sciences, she has worked as a tour guide, an environmentalist, a writer, and a copy editor of scientific publications. Virginia now brings her passion for everything green to Kootenay Business. View all of Virginia Rasch’s articles

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