A trip down California’s coast provides visitors a surprisingly diverse journey through craft cider. Along the way, you will find hyperlocal experimental ciders sourcing from nearby heirloom orchards along with urban California cideries putting their own spin on juices harvested from apples throughout the West Coast. Each of these spots is worth a stop so that you can sip ciders rooted in the Golden State.
HUMBOLDT CIDER CO. – Eureka
We’ll begin in the far north of the state with Humboldt Cider Co. This cidery aims to provide something for every palate, making it a good stop for those who prefer classic, dry ciders as well as those looking for more adventurous flavors. The menu ranges from their dry Drysdale, to an experimental fruited-and-hopped cider like the Servin Aces with mango, dry-hopped with Citra and Simcoe hops.
GOWAN’S HEIRLOOM CIDERS – Anderson Valley
If you desire an orchard experience with estate-grown ciders made from heirloom apples, Gowan’s should be on your destination list. The family’s orchards were established in 1876 and sit among the beautiful rural landscape of the Anderson Valley. You’ll find single-varietal ciders, as well as spiced heirloom-and-wine blends such as their Rosé Applewine Cider that is crafted from heirloom apples and Pinot Noir.
GOLDEN STATE CIDER – Sebastopol
Golden State creates what they term “apple-driven dry ciders” with six core choices that range from Mighty Dry to Gingergrass, which is infused with natural ginger root and lemongrass. Plus, they’ve added an alcohol-removed cider to the core line-up. Their Harvest Series highlights their work with area farmers to produce ciders made from only apples grown in Sonoma County. Similarly, their California Farm Series highlights the terroir of the apple through single-varietals. You can try their core ciders and rotating seasonal and experimental ciders at the taproom in Sebastopol.
SOUTH CITY CIDERWORKS – San Bruno
As you travel south through the Bay Area, plan to pick up some cans from South City. This small, independent urban cider company uses West Coast apples to make dry, semi-sweet and hopped ciders, along with occasional special releases infused with florals and fruits such as lavender and pomegranate. They don’t have a tasting room just yet, but you can order and pick-up to enjoy later.
SANTA CRUZ CIDER COMPANY – Watsonville
This family-owned cidery maintains its own orchards in Santa Cruz County that supply the apples used to make ciders ranging from crisp, dry and still to fruity, floral and sparkling. You’ll also find both single-varietal ciders such as 100 percent Gravenstein and New Town Pippin, along with single-origin ciders made with apples harvested from the same valley and orchards. You can enjoy ciders on their patio or take bottles to go.
TWO BROADS CIDERWORKS – San Luis Obispo
This cidery sources apples from San Luis Obispo County to create small-batch ciders. With a focus on local sourcing and production, they embrace the changing flavor profiles and balance from year-to-year. Their ciders range from barrel-aged single varietals to others produced by wild yeast fermentation. They also have a tasting room with indoor and outdoor seating open on Fridays and Saturdays or by appointment.
APIARY CIDERWORKS & MEADERY – Carpinteria
Organic apples grown in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Santa Barbara County are used by Apiary to craft small batch, seasonal ciders you won’t find widely distributed – even throughout California. Their ciders incorporate the flavorful, floral influences of the area with local honey, flowers, fruit blossoms and herbs. They bottle and can their products, but a trip to the tasting room will open up the opportunity to try the many seasonal and limited batches that they regularly offer on their menu.
FICKLEWOOD CIDERWORKS – Long Beach
In the L.A. area, pick up some cider to-go from Ficklewood. This cidery produces pure, dry ciders with little-to-no residual sugars, so the focus remains on the apples and other natural ingredients. Classic dry and hopped ciders are available, but adventurous drinkers will want to take note of the truly original creations offered here. The Moodyroot is cider fermented with beet and date sugars, oak-aged and with an aroma described as pistachio with the taste of blood orange. More creations like this await you in Long Beach.
RAGING CIDER & MEAD CO. – San Marcos
Once you reach the southern part of the state, look for Raging Cider. Rooted in a love for English ciders, this cidery uses apples, pears, honey and other fruits sourced only from San Diego County. Family-owned and operated, they offer a taproom in San Marcos featuring dry to off-dry ciders infused with local fruits like tart plums and quince for tasting as well as cans and bottles to go.
SERPENTINE CIDER – San Diego
Started by two wildlife biologists, Serpentine Cider uses apple juices sourced from the Northwest and only natural ingredients to make their ciders in San Diego. Varieties range from dry with no residual sugars to sweeter, fruity options offering the flavors of pineapple, mango, tart passion fruit and spices. You can choose from two tasting rooms in the San Diego area to sit, sip and enjoy.