Your Next Hard Cider Destination

Disclosure:  I attended the 2017 Central Coast Cider Festival, but this story goes far beyond that.  


The Apple.   Innocent enough.   But, for centuries, this idolized fruit, has been creating quite the tasty beverage when fermented. Hard Cider, anyone? In England, 57% of their apple growing goes towards making cider, and is still one of the most popular beverage choices there.

Believe it or not, cider was vastly popular in the early beginnings of America, even a former president drank the tasty beverage (John Adams).  However, when prohibition hit America, cider was kind of tossed to the wayside in America.

But the last few years, craft cider making has HIT, and let me tell you, these craft artisans are creating some delectable ciders. And yes, folks, it’s even Gluten Free!

With that being said, if there’s one destination that needs to be on your Hard Cider List, it’s the Central Coast of California, particularly, Paso Robles.


If there was one proprietor of the cider movement in the Central Coast, one name comes to mind, and that happens to be Neil Collins, winemaker over at Tablas Creek Vineyards, Owner of Bristols Cider along with his sister Jackie and wife Marci. He, along with his sister Jackie, grew up in Bristols, England, where out there, it’s cider country!

When he moved to the area with his family, one thing he noticed right away was the lack of his favorite drink: Cider.  He begin to home brew his own cider from local apples (found around See Canyon and Paso Robles) in 1994 under the Bristols name, and from there, has really laid the foundation for Craft Cider makers throughout the Central Coast.

His Bristols Cider House Taproom officially opened doors in 2014 becoming the first Cider Taproom along the Central Coast.  While inside, you can taste entire Cider Flights, or grab a glass of your favorite cider and just hang out in a fun atmosphere.

See Canyon, an area near San Luis Obispo has quite a few apple farms in the area, and a huge reason why craft cider has taken off in the Central Coast.  Out of the area, some cider makers are really beginning to become known such as:

See Canyon Hard Cider: 

This family based company didn’t have apples on their mind when they first found their family farm, but once they nursed an old apple orchard back to health they found the joy in the fruit, and that’s when their cider making adventure began.

Gopher Glen Apple Farm:


When one owns an apple farm, you’d think that’d automatically transcend to cider making, right?  Well, when it comes to Gopher Glen, that’s exactly what they’re doing now!  Of course, they’ve always had a knack for apples, and fresh cider, so it only made sense to try their hand in hard cider too which they’ve been doing for about 7 years now.

In Paso Robles, Tin City Cider Co. has been getting rave reviews!  Located in the famed “Tin City,” an area of Paso Robles where winemakers, beer makers, and cider makers transcend in one community of warehouses. If you have not been, it needs to be on your must visit list the next time you come to Paso Robles.


Tin City Cider Co. is the collaboration of 3 winemakers in the Paso Robles Tin City: Curt Schalchlin of San Liege, Mikey Guigne of Scar of the Sea and Andrew Jones of Field Recordings. They opened the taproom this past summer, and has been getting rave reviews ever since.

And while you’re at it be sure to try Mikey’s Scar of the Sea ciders too! Read his inspiring story here.

And of course, there are newcomers to the scene, as well, such as

Jean Marie Cidery:


They started their business in 2015, and it all began because of a trip to Big Sur, where Connor shared his dream of starting a cider company, and Branden was there to make the dream the reality.

The name for the company came from the combining the middle names of their mothers, and it might make sense as to why one of their ciders is called “Mama’s Boy,” a hard cider with honey.


This past weekend, the 2nd Annual Central Coast Cider Festival took place at the Pavilion at Lake Atascadero where 17 Cider Producers throughout California came together to pour their hard ciders for those in attendance.  Many of the cider producers mentioned above were present along with many others including Hemley Cider, Santa Cruz Cider Company, Red Branch Cider Co, Golden State Cider, DreamCote, Meraki, South City Cider Works, Reef Points and more.  It’s a good showcase of how far the Central Coast Cidermakers have come.

And to showcase how Neil Collins laid the foundation for these cidermakers, is the pure fact, that he is the REASON behind the Cider Festival, it was his idea, after all.  The Cider Festival has become an annual event, and it’s truly one of a kind that includes unlimited cider pours during a three hour period along with a PIG ROAST dinner.  Those in attendance were able to purchase their favorite ciders at the event in the cider shop upon exiting the event.

Definitely put it on your calendar for 2018.

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Kukkula Winery, Paying Homage to Finland

Disclosure: I was invited out to Kukkula Winery to talk with Kevin, and explore his wines and vineyards.  This was my experience.

Driving to Kukkula Winery from Downtown Paso Robles was an experience, all in itself.  As I drove through the winding, scenic roads to get there, one last turn, left me with a beautiful hillside view, scenic enough, that I had to stop right there, on the road to take in a photo.

Little did I know, that the “hillside” was the property of Kukkula Winery, and that Kukkula in Finnish meant “high place or hillside.”  It was all beginning to make sense to me.

As I turned into Kukkula, owner and winemaker Kevin Jussila, met me there, and that’s where I learned about his incredible story.


Kevin Jussila overlooking his Kukkula Property in Paso Robles

His Story:

If you ever had a PASSION or a DREAM, you need to meet Kevin, because he is the guy that understands this completely, but not only that, has the DRIVE to make it happen.

As we walked around his property, we started at the Winery, and in truth, Kevin, built it himself.  The rock that surrounds the outside of the winery was ALL rock found within his property.  He not only built the winery himself, but the house that sits atop the hillside where him and his wife Paula, now reside.

His passion for wine truly began back in 1990, where he resided in Southern California.  In 2003, he took his first trip to Paso Robles with his wife Paula, and they fell in love with the area, especially the Adelaida district of Paso Robles. As he stood on the hillside where his house now resides, Kevin, knew then, where his passion for wine had led him.


In 2004, he truly began working on his dream of Kukkula Winery, building the property himself, and laying the land and vineyards.  Since the property resembles a lot of the same characteristics of the Rhone Region of France, these are also the stories his wines tells, focusing on Rhone Varietals such as: Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Grenache, Syrah, Roussanne, Mourvedre, Counoise, Petite Sirah, Viognier, and Grenache Blanc.

His Style of Farming:


His style is all organically dry-farmed, meaning, that during the winter, his cover crops will grow thick in the winter and early spring.  After the rains, the nutrients from the cover crops will be turned right back into the property.  A lot of the work done in the vineyard is done by hand, which is pretty incredible once you see the hillside!  And a lot of discing and weed-knifing is also used throughout the property.


An example of how the cover crops grow throughout Kukkula Property during the winter months. Mustard Greens.

Fruit is limited in what grows on the property to only 1-2 tons per acre, but this ensures the highest quality of product that this vineyard produces, which is then turned into some truly high quality wines.

His Wines:


Kevin pays homage to Finland throughout his winery and with the names of his wines.  His heritage is Finnish, and this is him paying homage to that.   To make it easier on his guests, he uses a different colored wine for each wine he produces, so if they can’t remember the name of the wine they’ve enjoyed, they just have to say the color, and they’ll instantly know what they’re looking for.

His wines are primarily Rhone Varietals with the exception of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel, which are varietals Paso is also getting well known for.  Zinfandel was the first grape plantings in the Paso Robles region.

His Rhone Varietals focus on Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Roussanne, Coignoise, Petite Sirah, and Grenache Blanc.

Wines to Pay Attention to:

Sisu: Finnish for Patience, Perseverance and Stamina. It is a huge compliment to call someone Sisu in Finland, so Kevin thought this was the perfect name for his GSM blend (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre.)  This blend is made up of usually half Syrah and equal parts Grenache and Mourvedre therefore creating the GSM blend that is widely known in the Paso Robles area.


Noir: French for dark, black, without light.

This wine is only available to Club members. It is mostly made up of Syrah and blended with Counoise to add more of a lift and elegance to the wine.

Lothario:  Meaning: “seducer, amorously attentive to women”

But in actually, this wine, is named after a good friend of Kevin’s, a friend who helped realize Kevin’s dream, so he thought the least he could do was name a wine after him, so Lothario was born.

It’s made up of a 1/3 of Grenache, Mourvedre and Zinfandel, although recent vintages have deviated a little bit from that configuration.  He likes to coin it as the “Paso Rhone,” substituting the Zinfandel in place of the Syrah.

Aatto: Finnish for “eve.”

This wine pays homage to his father.  A true proponent in Kevin’s dream, unfortunately, his father passed before construction began on the property.  HOWEVER, Kevin has realized, he needed to pay homage to his father.

Kevin says it best below:

“My dad was a dreamer, like me. I guess I got his restless DNA. He was born in Finland in 1932, was essentially orphaned by the time he was 10, jumped on a ship with one of his brothers to Canada in his early 20s, met my mom, had kids, and ultimately moved us to Southern California. The land of opportunity!

Although he realized some of that opportunity, he never quite got a hold of the reins the way he envisioned. He inspired me to realize that dream. I feel totally privileged to be here today, and because of that I give my dad a nod, an acknowledgement that I’m here because of his dreams.”

If you’re drawn to more unique wines, this is the wine I’d suggest for you.  A blend of mostly Counoise and Mourvedre with a bit of Grenache blended in.

New Experience at Kukkula Winery:


Property of Kukkula Winery

Wine Tasting and Exploring is so much the reason as to why I love wine, but a truly one of a kind of experience is another.

Kevin, along with his wife Paula, have created an one of a kind experience for their guests.  Guests can partake in their “Experience Kukkula events” where you join Kevin on a hike through his hillside property. As you begin the day, you will take in the sweeping views of the property along with feasting on a brunch made by his wife Paula. After you will hike down to the tasting room for a private tasting with Kevin at his tasting room.

Read more about the Experience here.

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Gettysburg, Pennsylvania: Your Next Foodie Adventure!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Destination Gettysburg.

Gettysburg has a lot more going on than our country’s historical past.  As many families come to Gettysburg to honor our history, people are finding there’s so much more happening in Gettysburg than meets the eye.  And I’m here to LET YOU know about these GREAT adventures. For starters, it’s time to indulge in your inner foodie and begin planning your next FOODIE ADVENTURE in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania:

1. Take a FOOD Tour

Gettysburg, known as the biggest small town in the world, has some GREAT food tours out there.  Whether you get connected with Savor Gettysburg, where you are lead on a walking tour around Historic Gettysburg, and shown some of the best EATS this small town has to offer.  Partake in ONE of 5 Unique experiences they have available, explore Historic Downtown Gettysburg, or explore the Wine, Cider, and Food, or if Comfort food is more your thing, they have that too.  They also offer an amazing Farmer’s Market and Cooking Class Tour! And if you have an interest in Agri-Toursim, they offer a  Field to Fork Agritourism tour where you’ll go out to the farms of Gettysburg, harvest your own produce, and then turn your harvest into a bountiful meal! These 3 Hour Tours show an entirely different story of Gettysburg!

2. Go Wine Tasting or Cider Tasting or Visit a Distillery



Gettysburg is truly making its mark in the wine, cider and distillery world and tons of wineries, cideries and distilleries are popping up all around Gettysburg.  Spend a day or two exploring these hidden gems throughout Adams County.

Some recommendations include:

Stop into Mason Dixon Distillery:


Producers of Small Batch Spirits from local whole grains. They even have a small kitchen inside where they serve meals, including Sunday Brunch!

Lunch, Dinner, Tours, Bottle sales
Wednesday-Saturday 11:30am to 9:30 pm
Brunch, Tours, Bottle Sales
Sunday 10am-2pm

Reid’s Winery: The Cider House:

While Downtown Gettysburg, be sure to swing into Reid’s Winery for a wine tasting, or a hard cider tasting, whatever it is you’re craving.  If you like what you’re tasting, take some time to visit Reid’s Winery at their Home Winery during your Gettysburg getaway!

And of course, there’s a lot more to explore while in town!

3. .Pick Some Apples or Sip on Some Hard Ciders


Pennsylvania was first introduced to Apple Trees by none other than Johnny Appleseed, but did you know, Adams County, home of Gettysburg, is the 4th Largest producer of Apples in the US?  Yep, that’s right.  So while in town, especially during late summer or fall, plan a day for some Orchard Picking.

Or, during the warmer months, enjoy those apples through some Hard Cider Tasting, as this area is becoming a huge producer of hard ciders, and you know, since it’s in Apple Country, they’re worth tasting.

4. Take in a Food Festival

This area loves its food especially its wine and apples! So of course, there’s 2 great festivals not to MISS when visiting Gettysburg.

The Gettysburg Wine & Music Festival takes place every September during harvest time!  A great time to celebrate the year’s bounty, and enjoy all the fine wines this area produces.

And of course, while in Apple Country, it would make sense to have an Apple Harvest Festival! This festival is held the first two weekends of every October.

While both of these festivals take place during the fall, there’s tons of summer festivals not to miss including a PA Cider Fest, Corn Fest, and Peach Fest that happen every summer in Gettysburg!

  1. Take in a Farmer’s Market

With farmers being so close to the heart of Downtown Gettysburg, one thing not to miss on your travels is stopping into a local farmer’s market to enjoy the bountiful fruit and vegetables offered.  NOTHING tastes better straight from the farm.

If you’re in town when a Farmer’s Market isn’t happening be sure to stop into McDannell Fruit Farm & Market to stock up on your favorites.  Did we say apples?

And while you’re not indulging in your taste buds while in Gettysburg, you can explore the small boutiques in Historic Downtown, or take in some of the history that Gettysburg has to offer.  It’s truly worth a Getaway this Spring or Summer!

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