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September 22, 2023

Hard cider business adapts to shelter-in-place

Santa Cruz Cider Company offering delivery, curbside pickup

A single door was propped open, with a long table placed just inside of Santa Cruz Cider Company’s Apple City Tasting Room Monday afternoon. 

A sign directed customers to the makeshift pickup window, which the owners have set up during the countywide shelter-in-place order.

Natalie Henz, who runs the cidery with her sister, Nicole Todd and their families, was there to hand out orders. The business is currently offering online ordering with either in-person pickup, delivery or shipping. 

Henz said that after just two weeks, they have felt the effects of shelter-in-place acutely. 

“It’s been rough, being closed,” she said. “But we’re doing what we can… We are figuring things out.”

Santa Cruz Cider Company was established in 2013 and moved its full operation to Hangar Way in Watsonville last year. It has steadily gathered a following of South County customers, many of whom have become members of the cider club. Henz says this has been very helpful during the shutdowns.

“We are lucky in that respect… People had signed up for the club, and they will definitely get their cider,” she said.

On March 21 the company launched a revamped website, complete with a new online store and ordering system. A select group of their canned and bottled ciders, as well as a refillable 32 oz “Meowler,” can be ordered through the site.

CRISP LINEUP  Santa Cruz Cider Company’s Wooden Tooth Special and Hopped Apple Cider are two of the ciders available online for delivery and pickup. —Johanna Miller/The Pajaronian

Every Monday and Friday from noon to 4 p.m., an employee will be on hand for people to pick up their orders in person. Customers can also order online for free delivery within Santa Cruz County every Thursday, and the business ships anywhere in California. 

The cidery still sells its products at local grocery stores, which remain open, such as AJ’s Market in Aptos and Staff of Life and Shopper’s Corner in Santa Cruz. But reaching residents who buy their cider at the tasting room and other local hangouts has been challenging.

“Our business came to a screeching halt,” said Todd. “Suddenly, not only did we have to close, but many of the bars or other public places we sell to… It all just ended. We had to rethink how we were going to do things.”

For now, Todd says the best way to support the cidery is to stay in touch with the business through social media and occasionally picking up an order or two.

“Buying directly is really the best way for folks to support a small business,” Todd said. “Especially in times like these.”

Johanna Miller
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business, nonprofits and agriculture.


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