Blazing a Path on the Sonoma Cider Trail

The tasting room for Ace Cider is not the easiest place to get to, partially because you have to find it tucked away behind a warehouse on the grounds of their production facility, but primarily because it is only open from 1-5 on Friday afternoons. This was not someplace we could head to on a weekend, so advanced arrangements needed to be made.

We were inclined to make such arrangements due to an opening in Marie’s work schedule, and the need to head up to Occidental to help a raccoon foster care member vaccinate and microchip her group. So, we grabbed a picnic lunch and headed up north last Friday. All 9 Ace ciders are available on-tap at the tasting room, and flights are available.

Flight of Ace cider

The large number of tiny glasses makes a flight a bit labor-intensive for the bartender, but he seemed to be in good spirits, and we quickly made our way around the wheel of cider.

empty flight of Ace Cider

One does need to select a cider from a flight to enjoy more fully, so we procured pints and continued to enjoy the sunny, breezy afternoon in the outdoor seating area.

pint of Apple Honey Ace Cider

It was so pleasant, that we decided to hang around for one more round before heading out. It’s not the most charming tasting room we’ve ever been to, but it was a friendly crew and worth a visit once to check out all the ciders in one sitting.

pints of Ace Cider

Once again, Steve had a bright idea to head up to Healdsburg to go to the Sonoma Cider taproom. As with our post-Crooked City excursion to Lost & Found on World Cider Day, we had been their previously and Steve said he thought Marie would like to see it; I mean, we were already almost there. I’m starting to think he’s more of a bar-hopper than I knew.

At any rate, off to Sonoma Cider we went, each selecting 6 ciders from their menu to fill in our flights.

Flight of Sonoma Cider

It being the end of a long day, we declined to order a full pint post-flight. Marie was making noises about some poutine place in Berkeley, but Steve and I are not spring chickens anymore and we were dreaming of something more low-key and closer to sleepy-time than that. Instead we stopped at a bottle shop in Novato and picked up a bottle of Tilted Shed’s Smoked cider, which Steve had been wanting to get more fully acquainted with since sampling it at this year’s SF Cider Summit. If you want Steve to try something, make it pumpkin, cranberry, ginger, or smoked. He can’t resist.

Bottle procured, we headed back to Marie’s house for a relaxing stint around a fire pit, as Marie described her two experiences going to Burning Man, the second of which sounded like the hell-scape that Steve and I imagine it to be. The fire pit was particularly smoky, so it was hard to distinguish the smoked nature of the cider from the smoke in my nostrils and properly assess it. Fortunately, we had picked up two bottles, and will have another chance to give it the focused tasting it deserves.

Tilted Shed Smoked cider in front of fire pit