Sonoma County Cider Houses
Long known for its wines, Sonoma County is also hard cider country. Small-batch craft ciders, often made with heirloom apple varieties, tend to be more complex than their big-brand counterparts. In general, they're also lower-alcohol than wine, usually about 6 to 9 percent alcohol by volume.
Sonoma County's own heirloom apple, the Gravenstein, is commonly grown in the orchards of Sebastopol—and often used in Sonoma County ciders. Affectionately known as "Gravs," these are one of North America's earliest apples on the market, and often signal the beginning of each year's harvest season.
So mix up your next celebration and pop a bottle (or can) of Sonoma County cider. Use the Sonoma County Craft Beverage Map to find local cider houses, and read below for some Sonoma County cider producers.
The Dutton family has been farming in Sonoma County for generations. Today, Dutton Ranch farms 1,200 acres of grapes and 200 acres of apples, all within the Green Valley-Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations.
Fifth-generation farmers and owners of Dutton Ranch, Joe and Tracy Dutton predominantly grow Chardonnay and Pinot Noir winegrapes for their winery, Dutton Estate Winery. However, inspired by family history, Joe and Tracy also blend Gravenstein and Golden Delicious apples into a carbonated hard cider that is exclusively available online and in the tasting room.
Tilted Shed, the second oldest cidery in Sonoma County, is a true mom-and-pop operation, founded by the husband-and-wife team of Scott Heath and Ellen Cavalli. Making cider from Sonoma County-grown organic heirloom and cider apples, they source from a handful of local orchards, including their own.
Drop by Tilted Shed, located in Windsor, to taste the lightly sparkling Graviva, a tribute to the Gravenstein. Or, choose from a wide variety of other ciders they produce. Tilted Shed is open on Saturday and offers cider by the flight, glass, can, bottle, or growler.
Husband-and-wife team Chris Condos and Suzanne Hagins pour all-organically grown Pinot Noir and hard apple cider at their rustically styled, barn-like tasting room on the north edge of Sebastopol. Horse and Plow’s cider menu includes their Gravenstein Cider, made from 100% Sonoma County Gravenstein apples, and several other unique ciders, such as their Hops & Honey cider made with wildflower honey champagne yeast and the delicate Farmhouse cider that’s a mouthwatering blend of several Sonoma County grown apples. On a nice day, relax on the patio amid free-range chickens, flowers and redwoods.
Fittingly, Golden State Cider is one of California's most iconic cider makers using West Coast-grown apples from California, Oregon, and Washington. The ciders are made from fresh pressed apples with no concentrates or preservatives and are gluten free. Sip apple-driven dry ciders in their new taproom at The Barlow, where you can enjoy a one-of-a-kind pairing menu with food from neighbors at the Barrio Cocina. Or, buy a four-pack to go for a Sonoma County picnic adventure.
Preston is among Sonoma County's most dedicated advocates of the whole-farm approach to growing wines in balance with vegetables, fruit and olive trees, grain, and pastured livestock. Explore the gardens and purchase picnic fare at the farm store. And then grab a glass of wine or seasonal cider (no outside alcohol) and settle in under the shade of the walnut tree and enjoy. Afterward, walk around the property and greet the animals.
With so many cider house choices, the solution is simple: Try them all! To get started, check our listings of Sonoma County's breweries, distilleries, and cider houses.