Central Coast Cider Festival returns this Saturday

ATASCADERO — Although it’s located between two of California’s fastest growing wine regions, Atascadero is quickly making a name for itself based solely on its selection of craft beers and ciders. Atascadero’s entries into the craft beverage craze will be on display at the Atascadero Pavilion on the Lake this Saturday, May 13, from 5 - 8 p.m. as Visit Atascadero hosts its second annual Central Coast Cider Festival.

“Sixteen unique producers, primarily from the Central Coast, will be featured,” event organizer Jennifer Bravo said. “Other producers are coming from Santa Cruz, L.A., Los Olivos and even the Sacramento area.”

Compared to the wine and beer industries, hard cider is experiencing a renaissance here in the states, Bravo said.

“Growing more than 400 percent since 2010, hard cider is the fastest-growing segment of the beer and flavored malt beverages landscape, by a mile,” she said.

While the apple harvest is typically in the fall, producers release new ciders all year long, Bravo added.

The idea for the festival began with Neil Collins. Collins opened the first cider house on the Central Coast in Atascadero and is now the owner of both Bristols Cider House and Lone Madrone Winery, and also works as the winemaker at Tablas Creek Vineyard.

“(Collins) dreamed of one day having a festival dedicated to the craft beverage,” Bravo said. “He reached out to other producers like Andrew Jones of Tin City Cider and got the ball rolling.”

This year’s event, which will be topped off at a capacity of 500 people, is now sponsored by several other local businesses including 15 Degrees C, Bristols Cider, Umpqua Bank, Baker Wine and Grape Analysis, Digital Dogma, Western Square Industries, TriCotBraur, ETS, Canton Cooperage, Scott Labs, Taco Works, AGM and Left Coast T-shirts.

Together, these local businesses are making it possible for guests to get a behind-the-scenes cider making experience, meet the faces behind the presses and explore all the local ciders the region has to offer.

Admission to the event, which costs $65, will include live music by Eric and the Earthquakes, lounge areas and snacks and a full pig roast dinner prepared on site by Chef Jeffery Scott of Vineyard Events, Bravo said.

Tickets can be purchased online at www.centralcoastciderfestival.com.

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