How Our Cider Is Made
We’re pretty new as a company, but our roots go back a long way. Oak Glen Cider Company’s genesis was in high school friendships that turned into friendship between two families, forged over the years in the mountain community of Oak Glen and surrounding towns. One day, opportunity came calling, and the families answered.
Put most simply, the cider-making process can be divided into two parts: 1) growing the apples to make the fresh apple juice; and 2) turning the fresh juice into hard cider.
Part one of that process is handled by Devon and Shelli Riley, the farmer/operators of Los Rios Rancho, Southern California’s largest apple farm, located in the apple farming mountain community of Oak Glen. If you’ve been to the Los Rios website, you know that Devon and Shelli and their family are part of a multi-generational story in Oak Glen that began with a desire to live a better, more rooted, more authentic life. So if you come up to our cidery on the farm, you’ll see that legacy expressed in an environment where you and your family can enjoy good “old” things that are still worthwhile today – not just because they’re old, but because they’re good.
Part two of the cider-making process – turning the juice into hard cider – is handled by Chris and Lisa Ross. Their love of the romance of winemaking made them long to run a winery, but it seemed a pie-in-the-sky dream…until one day the Rileys asked if the Rosses were interested in starting a cidery with them. (Technically, a cidery is a winery, and we plan to expand into winemaking – but that’s a story for another time.) Suddenly, the dream was within reach. Values, vision, and viniculture all aligned. Chris , Lisa, and their children embraced a new adventure to live together.
Fast forward a few years, and Oak Glen Cider Company is a reality, with thousands of you enjoying the cider we love to make: crisp, clean, and always reflecting the innate character of the heirloom and other apples we work with – the vast majority of them grown right here on the farm in Oak Glen. We hope you’ll come up and visit, and that you’ll say hello when you do. We love to make new friends.
Who we are
We’re pretty new as a company, but our roots go back decades. Oak Glen Cider Company’s genesis was in high school friendships that turned into friendship between two families, forged over the years in the mountain community of Oak Glen. In 2015, the opportunity had finally arrived, and both families seized the opportunity and forged the “Oak Glen Hard Cider Company.”
Devon Riley Family
Devon Riley has been farming apples since he started working his first orchard when he was 16 years old. Having grown his business and incorporating new opportunities and avenues of business in Oak Glen over the years, Devon has booming apple business that the next generation is enthusiastically part of. The passion runs deep. As Devon’s son Seth put it, “We love the work we do. Getting to see the smiling faces each year of all the customers that enjoy the atmosphere that we can create is its own reward.”
Devon has over 3 decades of sweet cider blending experience and has made the sweet cider an integral part of Los Rios Rancho’s History. Every apple season we gather up the produce and combine the 31 varieties on the farm to create a refreshing sweet cider. Using the refurbished 1910 Cider press, Los Rios produces over 20,000 gallons of juice year. This sweet cider has been a family favorite for years and now we have partnered with the Ross Family to bring you a whole new version of our cider.
Chris Ross Family
Chris Ross, a longtime grant writer, and his wife Lisa, a local teacher, are the vintners that have had the longstanding dream of being able to produce wine and cider. Lisa’s childhood near Paso Robles helped to shape her desire for the romance and mystery of the wine making process. Having lived near Oak Glen for many years both Chris and Lisa enjoyed the rustic charm of visiting their friends, the Rileys, and enjoying the apples and sweet cider.
This sparked an idea in the Ross Household, “Could their passion for wine and cider be directed to a venture in Oak Glen?” Chris began to make micro-brew batches to find the potential for this Idea. After refining the process in his free time over a few years and attending cider conferences and classes, the Ross’s were ready to begin production. With tanks full of fermenting cider and a notebook full of recipes the adventure had begun. The Ross Family and the Riley family joined forces to produce the best possible Hard Cider in Southern California.
Join us on this journey and visit our Sales floors and tasting room in Oak Glen and Check back in with our website regularly to see what new things are happening with us or just come on up and say hello. You can follow our Blog with the link below or get onto our mailing list with the button below that.
How Our Hard Cider Is Made
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Step 1- Apples And Where they Come From
We start the process with the best quality apples that we can produce. We are located on the historic Los Rios Rancho Apple Ranch and have the distinct advantage of growing our own fruit for cider production. The whole process begins with a small apple tree being planted in the rich mountain soil of Oak Glen. The tree is tended by Devon Riley and his orchard maintenance crew for about 3 to 5 years before it becomes a productive tree. Once the tree is mature and starts producing, it will then be harvested each fall for the next 150 to 200 years if all goes well.
Step 2- Fresh Cider
The Harvested apples are picked by hand and are brought to the apple packing barn where the apples are cleaned sorted and prepared for sale. Cider is made from the "C" Grade apples that may have bruising or major skin blemishes. The Cider Apples are transported to the Refurbished 1910 Cider Press and are ground up and made into Fresh Cider. Fresh Cider is just the juice of the apples and nothing else. The Fresh cider is not pasteurized and dosen't receive any other ingredients to be Fresh Cider. This Fresh Cider is the base for making Hard Cider.
Step 3- Fermentation
Fermentation begins almost immediately after the fresh cider has been pressed out of the apples. The fresh cider is fermented in vats that can make a batch as small as 50 gallons or as large as 275 gallons. We are constantly making experimental blends while still producing large quantities of our standard blends. Fermentation is the part of the process that takes the longest but requires constant supervision. The Cider Ferments and sometimes wild yeasts or compounds in the cider can work against the process and take a delicious drink down a dark path. It is imperative that the vintner is taking samples and analyzing the fermentation process from start to finish.
Step 4- Final PREPARATIONS
Once the Fermentation Calms down and comes to an end the Cider is tasted and then prepared for bottling. To help make some hard cider sweet we add a little of the fresh cider back into the finished hard cider. This is known as back sweetening. Some Hard Cider tastes better mildly Carbonated and is given extra Carbon Dioxide in our pressure tanks. The final process is to bottle the cider and to Pasteurize the finished bottles to ensure that no more fermentation occurs.