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Santa Cruz Cider Co. has first soft opening

WATSONVILLE—Hangar Way in Watsonville was already booming with activity by noon this Fourth of July, as Santa Cruz Cider Company held the first soft opening of its new tasting room.

The company has gradually been moving its hard cider production into the space, next door to Elkhorn Slough Brewing Company. Last week the last piece of major equipment was hauled into the building.

“It feels great to be settled,” said owner and cidermaker Nicole Todd. “We’re glad to finally be working from a central location.”

Santa Cruz Cider Co. has been working with Elkhorn Brewing during the move. In fact, the brewery’s co-owners Julie Rienhardt and Michael Enos were leasing the space before offering it to Todd and her sister, Natalie Henze.

“We knew them long before they arrived,” Enos explained. “They’re great to work with. They have the same values, not only with product but in being part of the community.”

“Elkhorn is awesome,” Todd said. “We like their beer, and they seem to like our cider. It’s a great partnership.”

While Santa Cruz Cider Co.’s new tasting room isn’t fully up and running, the soft opening did offer guests a chance to try out their craft hard ciders on location. The setup was similar to the company’s pop-ups at local farmers’ markets, but included full pours instead of samples.


Santa Cruz Cider Co. had its first soft opening today in their new Watsonville location on Hanger Way. (Johanna Miller/Register-Pajaronian)

Food truck ate3one was also on hand, offering guests plenty of local, seasonal street food, while Hole Foods Vegan Donuts had a number of donuts and other treats for sale. Live music was planned for later in the day.

Henze said that Santa Cruz Cider Co. is aiming for an Aug. 25 grand opening of the tasting room.

“Of course, we’re going to have more soft openings before that,” she said. “We’re really excited to get started.”


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