Anna’s Cider had only just begun making ground when the Thomas Fire hit, sparing nothing. The Santa Paula-based cider house, owned and operated by Anna and Dominic O’Reilly, was a total loss just as the couple had begun bottling their initial run of dry and semi-dry ciders.
The future, however, is bright, as the couple aims to rebuild and take their shared experience on to bigger and better goals, including a taproom in downtown Santa Paula.
Anna says that the transition from winemaking to making hard cider was an easy one. Dominic, winemaker at the recently opened Topa Mountain Winery in Ojai, makes the cider as well. The couple realized that the demand for dry cider was growing, as opposed to the cloyingly sweet ciders often found on supermarket shelves.
The result of experimentation: a nice dry, crisp and refreshing cider “that still had a really nice apple aromatic,” says Anna. The couple’s cider appeared once in keg form at Azu Restaurant in Ojai, and they had plans to release more to restaurants and even bottle “Batch #3” before the fire hit.
Now, the pair have launched an IndieGoGo fundraiser to support their efforts to get going on a new batch. Anna estimates that the couple lost $15,000 worth of product alone, not including equipment, workspace and more.
Even so, Anna says that they have a relaunch date of March 1.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll be just ready to roll at that point,” said Anna.
The IndieGoGo campaign includes tiered goals and rewards. For a $30 contribution, donators will be able to submit photos of themselves to act as labels for Anna’s Cider’s first post-Thomas batch.
“As soon as we get back on our feet, our first batch that we do we’re going to call the Phoenix Blend, the comeback after the fire,” said Anna. “We’ll print many of each label with each face. That’s just to thank our contributors.”
For more information on Anna’s Cider, and to donate, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-unique-cider-production-re-build-from-fire-local#/ or www.annascider.com.