Slow Food Russian River invites you to a delicious Apple Farmers and Cider Makers Dinner and panel discussion at the Union Hotel in Occidental.
Monday, June 19th, at the Union Hotel in Occidental, from 5:30 to 8:00pm
5:30pm appetizers and drinks
Our own Gaye LeBaron, famed county historian, writer and teacher will lead a panel of local farmers and cider makers in discussion about the history and future of the Sonoma County apple industry.
On the panel: Ted Richardson, apple farmer at organic Bella Ridge Farm, Stan DeVoto, apple farmer at organic Devoto Gardens & Orchards, Ryan Johnston, cider maker at Ethic Ciders; and Ellen Cavalli and Scott Heath, owners and cider makers at Tilted Shed Ciderworks.
In the last odd five years we have counted over ten new craft cider makers in the region. Where there was only Ace Cider, established in 1993, we now see: Golden State Cider, Tilted Shed Ciderworks, Sonoma Cider, Horse & Plow, Ethic Ciders, Devoto Orchards Cider, Dutton Estate Winery, Wind Gap Wines, Leaky Barrel Cider, Apple Garden Farm, Specific Gravity Cider, Troy Cider, Radio Coteau, Gowan’s Heirloom Cider, Foxcraft Hard Cider, Drew Wines, and Coturri Winery.
The panel will address how the apple industry got where it is and what needs to be done to take advantage of this new demand for locally grown apples.
• What are the main markets you grow for? What does putting in more cider varieties look like and is that feasible as a business model? Biggest opportunities and challenges?
• New trees or grafting on old stock – what should folks consider if they want to transition? Irrigation or dry-farmed?
• What varieties with cider interest grow well here? What varieties do you wish there were more of? How much do you need to be useful?
• What does the general health of the apple industry look like from their vantage point? How has the increased demand for apples for cider changed things? Other major factors at play?
• Your experience as an apple farmer over the years? What should people know about if they are thinking about getting into growing?
• As a cider maker, what are the biggest challenges to using only local fruit?
For over ten years Slow Food Russian River has promoted the local apple industry through campaigns of its Sebastopol Gravenstein Presidium. We have enlisted dozens of restaurants to feature the apple in dishes and desserts, placed wooden boxes full of free Gravensteins all around Sebastopol and blanketed farmers’ markets with free samples of its juice. More recently we have promoted our local apple culture through the free Sebastopol Community Apple Press where people can press apples from their own backyard or bought at apple farms in the area, and by supporting our new craft cider makers. This is the first of a number of activities about local cider.
Bio of Panalists
Ryan Johnston grew up in Occidental and has worked as an educator, community organizer and ecological designer before joining the Ethic Ciders team last summer. With Ethic he weaves his passion for flavor, craft and land stewardship as orchard manager and co-cidermaker. Ryan is a plant-lover and junior apple geek that believes that cider has a core role to play in bringing community together toward a more biologically diverse and delicious future.
After 2 years of experimentation, Ethic Ciders released it’s first ciders in 2017 with a commitment to respect the fruit, heal the land and connect the community. Their 3 acre organic orchard on Occidental Rd grows 20 varieties of apples and is a test-bed for regenerative agriculture practices. 100% of the apples for Ethic’s inaugural cider releases were sourced from organic Sonoma County orchards.
Scott Heath is co-owner, cidermaker, orchardist, and graphic designer of Tilted Shed Ciderworks. He studied with UK cider expert Peter Mitchell, and has a certificate in cider sensory evaluation from the UK’s National Association of Cider Makers. Scott is a Master Printer of intaglio art (etchings), and his woodcut prints and illustrations grace our labels.
Ellen Cavalli is co-owner, sales and marketing director, and self-anointed cider evangelist of Tilted Shed Ciderworks. She also helps with the cidermaking work and managing the farm. A longtime book and magazine editor, she uses her communication skills to spread the word of cider.
Scot and Ellen started Tilted Shed Ciderworks in 2011 out of an obsessive love for apples and cider. All of our apples are organically grown within 35 miles of our cidery, primarily in west Sonoma County. At our Sebastopol farm, we have planted 100 varieties of traditional cider apples and perry pears—a pomological research station on the edge of the Pacific. As cider evangelists, we are devoted to making ciders of individuality, integrity, artistry, and elegance. It’s thrilling to explore our unique terroir and the transformative powers of fermentation, and experience how our ciders shapeshift over time.