With the start of fall right around the corner, there’s no better way to welcome the arrival of colorful leaves and pumpkin everything than with a refreshing glass of cider in the heart of Mariposa. Sierra Cider offers that and more through their immersive, hands-on experience, which takes visitors through the orchard-to-bottle process of turning apples into the ultimate autumnal adult beverage.
Sierra Cider owners Dana Tiel and David Bailey always dreamed of living in a place like Mariposa, with rolling hills and plenty of space. Beginning in August 2020, the couple spent weeks perusing websites in search of farmland for sale until eventually stumbling upon the cidery about a year ago. The original owners of Sierra Cider were selling the business — along with the 16 acres of Mariposa countryside surrounding it.
“We had a nice home in LA, but we were starting to think about children and the kind of lifestyle we wanted to raise them in. I saw the listing for this amazing cider company and thought it was perfect,” Tiel said. “We’re both in marketing and wouldn’t have to throw our entire careers away, and we thought we could use our skills to promote the brand and learn how to make cider.”
By October 2020, the husband-and-wife duo had closed a deal on the cidery. It was almost like they were meant to find the listing, Tiel said, since the pair loves all things fall. Their wedding was Halloween-themed, and they usually spend the season in search of farms selling apple cider donuts.
After Tiel and Bailey purchased Sierra Cider, its original owners Dave and Beth Lancaster stayed on as consultants and taught their successors everything about making the drink. They still live next door and have become the couples’ best friends, Tiel said.
“They’ve made sure we know exactly what to do and how to make cider the way they did it,” Tiel said. “Everything is kind of serendipitous, the way it all worked out.”
While Tiel and Bailey had a bit of a green thumb prior to purchasing the cidery, their backyard Los Angeles garden was a bit easier to manage than 800 apple trees. There’s been a learning curve in taking over and running their own business, but their prior experience has helped make the transition easier. By December 2020 Tiel and Bailey had picked their first crop of 3,000 apples.
“We had tons of fears diving into this headfirst and we knew we were doing something crazy. It was terrifying,” Tiel said. “We’re finally getting the hang of it though and feel prepared.”
Mariposa is the gateway to Yosemite National Park, which has welcomed significantly fewer guests over the past 17 months due to the coronavirus pandemic. This gave Tiel and Bailey time to perfect their craft, however, and the cidery now offers orchard tours and tastings which can be booked by phone, email or even on Airbnb Experiences. There are four different varieties of cider to choose from if you visit: Dry Summer Blend, Early Harvest, Farmhouse Style and Kingston Black Blend.
From searching online for their dream property to now living on it and providing the 209 with delicious ciders, Tiel and Bailey can’t believe their luck.
“Mariposa is like a perfect little town you’d see on a postcard,” Tiel said. “We never want to leave.”
Sierra Cider is located at 5569 Meadow Lane in Mariposa. Visitors are required to call, text or email to book a tasting before visiting the property and can do so at 209-347-6161 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about Sierra Cider, visit www.sierracider.com.