Local Cider Trail Map

Local Cider Trail Map

Edible Marin & Wine Country

BY  / PHOTOGRAPHY BY  | AUGUST 23, 2021

Apples were introduced to Sonoma County in the early 1800s, planted by the Russian- American Company along with other fruit and produce intended to supply Russia’s settlements in what is now Alaska.

By the 1940s, nearly 15,000 acres of Sonoma County were planted with apples. Over time, most of those orchards have been replaced by vineyards, but a handful of local farmers and landowners remain loyal to the fruit—and the biodiversity maintained by the preservation of this historic crop.

Today, Sonoma County farmers still grow over 2,000 acres of apples, representing around 150 different varieties, with the majority of plantings being heirloom multipurpose apples such as Gravenstein, Golden Delicious, Jonathan, Newtown Pippin and Rome, among many others. The county also has almost a dozen established cider brands, with more businesses starting to experiment with cider as it continues to attract a growing fan base of thirsty craft beverage drinkers locally and across the country.

The nine local cideries we feature here in our Local Cider Trail Map offer cider lovers an opportunity to taste their ciders on-site. All of the businesses on this list are independently owned and operated, and contribute to their communities in a variety of ways, including their advocacy for the preservation of agricultural biodiversity, publication of apple-focused history and literature, support of local nonprofit organizations and economic support of local farmers.

If you’re seeking a group of individuals who care deeply about improving the region and communities in which they live, farm and do business, there’s no need to look any further than these local business owners, farmers and community leaders.

All are special spots; we’ll leave it up to you to craft your own perfect cidery road trip itinerary, then find a designated driver and get out there and enjoy!

SONOMA COUNTY

ACE CIDER

The longest-operating and most prolific cidery in Sonoma County, ACE Cider has been in business for over three decades.

Tucked inside their large production facility [it is somewhat hard to spot at first, but if it looks like you are entering a large industrial plant, you’re at the right place], ACE’s cider pub and taproom was designed to look a bit like owner Jeffrey House’s favorite pubs back home in England. You’ll find redwood picnic tables, lots of historical apple memorabilia, a carved wooden bar imported from the U.K., darts, live music on Fridays and a wide array of ciders on tap, as well as in cans and bottles to take home. It’s also dog friendly.

Open 1—5pm every Friday, ACE’s cider pub is the perfect place to grab a pint, enjoy a tasting flight or fill up a growler. The pub offers the entire rainbow of ACE’s flavored-infused and apple ciders, as well as special seasonal selections such as their pumpkin cider (the first pumpkin-based cider in the U.S.), which is poured from late August through November.

2064 Gravenstein Hwy. N., Sebastopol
AceCider.com

DUTTON ESTATE

Founded in 1995 by the Dutton family, longtime West Sonoma County apple growers, Dutton Estate Winery started producing their hard cider, made from the family’s estate-grown organically farmed apples, in 2016. The reception from their customers was so positive, the winery has continued to increase their cider production each year and launched a cider club in 2019.

Enjoy a cider and wine tasting on Dutton’s gorgeous garden patio, led by one of the winery’s knowledgeable hosts, or plan ahead and pick up a panini or cheese and charcuterie plate from nearby Bohemian Creamery to enjoy with your tasting. Tasting experiences are offered daily by reservation.

8757 Green Valley Rd., Sebastopol
DuttonEstate.com

EYE CYDER

Crafted by Radio-Coteau, a West Sonoma County winery with a cult following, Eye Cyder ciders are a passionate side project for winemaker/owner Eric Sussman. What’s with the name? Eye = a nod to the one-eyed tomcat Eric inherited when he bought the wine estate, and Cyder is the traditional English spelling of cider. Take a look at Eye Cyder’s creative and artistic label designs featuring farm animals and local flora and fauna, and you’ll get a sense that they’re a little bit like a love letter to the special region and place they call home.

The winemaker has a 42-acre biodynamic farm and vineyards in Occidental, on which 22 acres are planted with grapevines, apple trees and other fruit and produce. While they are wine growers first, Radio-Coteau/Eye Cyder prioritize agricultural biodiversity, choosing to nurture and utilize existing orchard fruit, in addition to their vineyards. When Eric purchases additional apples for his cider, he sources only local Sonoma County dry-farmed and organic apples.

Eye Cyder’s line of farmstead, organic ciders are all “rock bottom” dry (meaning very dry, not sweet) and experiment with different co-fermentations or infusions with fruit or plants from their farm such as wild blackberries, satsuma plums and redwood tips.

In total, the winery and cidery produces fewer than 200 cases of cider, so cider fans should run to book a cider tasting at the winery before it runs out!

2040 Barlow Ln., Sebastopol
EyeCyder.com

GOAT ROCK CIDER

Goat Rock Cider moved into their new space in an industrial area next to Lagunitas Brewing Co. headquarters in early 2021, which has allowed the cider brand to both increase production and welcome customers to taste on-site.

The space is mostly a production and canning facility, but customers can enjoy Goat Rock’s cider tasting flights that include their Dry, Rose, Pear, Bramble (co-fermented with blackberries and Dandelion Chocolates cocoa nibs), Pineapple and Guavicot (co-fermented with guava and apricot) ciders in a small upstairs lounge area overlooking the fermentation tanks. All of Goat Rock’s ciders are dry to bone dry.

Goat Rock Cider currently accepts tasting appointments by prior reservation, seven days a week.

1364 N. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma
GoatRockCider.com

 

GOLDEN STATE CIDER TAPROOM

Named for the sunny state they call home, Golden State Cider co-founder Jolie Devoto and her family come from a 30-plus-year background of farming apples in West Sonoma County.

Their taproom, located in The Barlow—the former apple warehouse and processing plant, now a trendy shopping and eating district in the heart of Sebastopol—offers ample outdoor and indoor seating to enjoy tasting flights, pints and refillable growlers of Golden State Cider’s flagship ciders as well as their more limited production California farm series and Sonoma County series ciders, some of which are only available at Golden State’s taproom. The taproom itself doesn’t serve food, but The Barlow is filled with great options to pick up and bring over to enjoy with your cider.

What’s on tap at Golden State varies according to the season, but visitors can always expect to find a varied selection of 10 or more ciders on tap. Their cider-savvy taproom guides can help you put together a sampling of ciders to meet your tastes.

Golden State’s taproom is open W and Th 4—8pm and F—Su noon—8pm.

In The Barlow, 180 Morris St., #150, Sebastopol
DrinkGoldenState.com

HORSE & PLOW WINERY AND CIDER

Located just a couple of miles from The Barlow and downtown Sebastopol, and right off the Gravenstein Highway (aka “the 116”), this organic farm, winery and cidery has been a local favorite since even before owners Suzanne Hagins and Chris Condos opened the tasting barn six years ago (Horse & Plow was founded in 2008).

With plentiful outdoor seating, an indoor tasting bar and a light snack/food menu, Horse & Plow offers visitors a shaded, farm-like retreat from the outside world. Enjoy a cider tasting flight, cider by the glass or fill up a growler with whatever is on draft and take it to-go.

Horse & Plow’s cider selection normally includes at least one limited-production, rotating seasonal cider on tap, plus their four mainstay ciders: Farmhouse, Hops and Honey, Heirloom and Jonathan. The small food menu includes nibbles such as nuts, olives, cheese and charcuterie.

Open for tasting F—M 1—5 pm, Horse & Plow also regularly hosts Live Music Sundays, art shows featuring local artists and other events.

1272 Gravenstein Hwy. N., Sebastopol
HorseAndPlow.com

OLD WORLD WINERY/TROWBRIDGE CIDER

This organic farm and winery located in northern Santa Rosa offers an organic garden and hummingbird retreat, as well as organically farmed eggs, wines and cider.

Winemaker and cidermaker Darek Trowbridge started making his sparkling hard cider in 2013, using Sonoma County—grown apples he purchased from organic farmer friends. He also experimented with a co-ferment in 2020, marrying Old World Winery’s estate Abouriou grapes with apples to create a cider-wine version of the winery’s “Early Harvest” Lambrusco-style sparkling wine.

Every wine tasting at Old World Winery finishes with a taste of their Trowbridge cider.

Old World Winery is open for tastings by appointment F 11am—3pm, and Sa & Su 11am—4pm.

850 River Rd., Fulton
OldWorldWinery.com

TILTED SHED CIDERWORKS

Explore Windsor’s buzzing “maker” scene during a visit to Tilted Shed Cider, located in Windsor’s Artisan Alley. Over the past decade, Tilted Shed has become one of Sonoma County’s brightest craft cider stars garnering die-hard fans all over the country.

Sip Tilted Shed’s artisan ciders indoors at their new cider bar, outside at a patio table or in their cellar (where the cider is made!). If Ellen Cavalli (co-owner, mad apple scientist, farmer and all around badass) is around, you might persuade her to give you a behind-the-scenes tour, but even if she’s not, Tilted Shed’s longtime harvest helper and tasting room host David Ridenhour is an expert guide to your perfect cider.

All of Tilted Shed’s small-batch ciders are made with 100% organic and locally sourced apples, undergo no fining or filtering and see minimal sulfite use. Ellen and her husband, Scott, grow over 100 varieties of apples and pears on their Sebastopol farm, and purchase additional fruit from local farmers. Their commitment to only purchasing from local farmers is a part of their mission to preserve the crops’ place in the region.

What’s on tap and available for purchase in the tasting room depends on what’s been recently bottled or canned, but you’ll always find a few mainstays such as their Inclinado, Graviva and Hewes, plus a handful of ever-changing limited-release ciders (and other fun cider-infused concoctions) that feature fun, creative labels designed by Ellen.

Tilted Shed’s taproom and cider bar is open Saturdays (only) noon—5pm. Guests are welcome to bring in their own food and you’ll find delicious offerings at neighboring Artisan Alley businesses.

7761 Bell Rd., Windsor
TiltedShed.com

MARIN COUNTY

APPLEGARDEN FARM

Head to AppleGarden Farm, a few minutes from the town of Tomales, to buy cider straight from the maker at this 20-acre organic farm and cidery.

Established 14 years ago by Jan and Louis Lee, the AppleGarden was a lifelong dream come true, as well as the couple’s “retirement plan.” The 300 apple trees are mostly heritage English varieties, as the couple wanted to make more robust English-style ciders that would pair well with local cheeses.

The Lees live and work on the farm, so they’re almost always on-site, but the gates are open to visitors on Saturdays and Sundays from 11am to 4pm. The farm also includes a guest cottage that can be rented by the night or week.

3875 Tomales Petaluma Rd., Tomales
AppleGardenFarmCider.com


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