Tilted Shed Ciderworks
A Hobby Grown Wild in California
At its core, Tilted Shed Ciderworks is a hobby gone wild. The trouble started in 2007. We were living on a small farm in Northern New Mexico, trying our hand at organic market farming while freelancing and raising our baby. On our land was an old, gnarled, neglected apple orchard. Being a bit of a mad scientist with a fermentation habit, Scott decided that our bumper crop of Jonathans, Goldens, and Red Delicious would make good drink. So, with our infant son in one arm, Ellen lobbed apples into the hopper of our barrel press, while Scott cranked and pressed. Scott then put up the juice in the barn for a long, slow fermentation. A few months later, we were amazed with the results. Inspired, we began tasting regional ciders made from European and American cider apples. An obsession began. After a few years of studying, researching, and making cider with the intent of going pro, we moved to the historic apple-growing region (now wine country) of west Sonoma County, CA and launched Tilted Shed Ciderworks in the spring of 2011. We believe that the same terroir that produces spectacular Russian River Valley wine grapes translates to growing phenomenal cider apples.
Unlocking the Secrets of Apples
Apples hold secrets. They persevere through drought and pestilence, and every year they show us a new way to experience them. Our goal is make ciders that elevate the apple to greatness, expressing a unique point of view and sense of place–something that inspires, captivates, and brings joy. Our mission is to elevate the apple to greatness by making world-class ciders that are revelatory and sublime, with a distinct sense of place and point of view.
Our Research Focused Orchard
We have planted a 2-acre cider orchard at our Sebastopol farm, where we grow more than 150 traditional cider apple, perry pear, and wild/seedlings varieties. The tannic cider varieties were selected throughout the centuries, primarily in the UK and France, specifically for cider production, and provide nuance, structure, and elegance. We work directly with local organic farmers, sustaining our apple heritage, community, and economy. We don’t rush the process or cheat: no imported apples, bulk juice, concentrate, colorings, flavorings, or fast fermentations. Just apples and time. The results are food-friendly, savory ciders of unexpected complexity, elegant structure, gorgeous aromatics, and long finish.
The Tilted Shed
There really is a tilted shed on our farm. It’s so decrepit it is a wonder it’s still standing. But we consider that a good sign. If it can beat the odds, then so can a cidery smack-dab in the middle of wine country! Yearly variations in our climate affect the levels of tannins, acids, and sugars, as they do for wine grapes, which is why our ciders don’t taste the same every year. Our ciders are orchard-driven and made in sync with the seasons. From late July to October, we sort, wash, grind, and press dozens of heirloom and tannic cider apple varieties at their peak ripeness and ferment slowly in small batches. We don’t take shortcuts or add flavorings and other adjuncts. Our mantra is apples and time. The results are food-friendly, earthy, elegant dry ciders that can be made only here.
Scott Heath was a master printer of intaglio with a fermentation habit until he traded in his etching press for the apple press in 2011, launching Tilted Shed Ciderworks with his wife, Ellen Cavalli.
Scott is the Tilted Shed cidermaker and orchardist, handling all aspects of grower relations, orchard practices, pressing, fermentation, and bottling. He has studied with UK cider expert Peter Mitchell and toured Spanish cider country, meeting with and learning from top orchardists and cidermakers there.
Ellen is ostensibly the sales and marketing director, but considers herself more of a cider evangelist and educator, on a mission to increase the public’s cider IQ. A longtime book and magazine editor, she is also the editor and publisher of Malus, a quarterly print zine that is focused on elevating the national conversation about cider in America.
"Our mantra is apples and time."