When West Country native Neil Collins moved to California, he found a serious disparity between all the wine grape vineyards and the lack of apple orchards and cider. To remedy that, he promptly began making cider at home, producing small batches with the limited local apples he had access to in 1994, under the brand name of Bristols in honor of his hometown in Southwest England. Two years later, he also dove into ferments featuring those local wine grapes as Lone Mardone Winery in Paso Robles with his sister Jackie Meisinger.
The British sibling duo, along with Collins’ wife Marci, have since expanded and grown Bristols’ cider production, now using apples from the greater San Luis Obispo County, and gaining recognition for pioneering the Central Coast cider scene. All of the ciders are based on fresh-pressed apple juice, expressed from a rack and cloth press and fermented with native yeast. The Original — aka the OG — set the stage and the standard for the trio and is still produced today, first made as an homage to the English ciders that inspired them. Upwards of 55 culinary and heritage California-grown apples, this bone-dry blend is straightforward and directly green apple on the nose, with a soft herbal undertone as the liquid warms up. Light apple flavor on the palate is caressed by gentle acid, a nip of tannin and very sessionable dry finish.