About Indigeny Reserve – organic apple ranch, ciderworks, distillery – pure paradise
Co-founders Jay and Judy Watson officially opened Indigeny Reserve to the public in 2012, and already it ranks as one of the Mother Lode’s top tourist attractions, according to TripAdvisor and Yelp, top consumer review sites.
Jay is the former owner-operator of a San Francisco-based communications business. He often greets visitors and leads tours of the facilities when he’s not making brandy and vodka. Judy is the former owner-director of Skytop Fitness Retreat in Sonora. She is the Program Director for Indigeny, focusing on guest speakers with the latest in sustainable living concepts, and offers Indigeny as an opportunity for young musicians to come and gain experience with public performance.
Son, Joe, is the Orchard Manager, Cider Maker and Chief Lab Technician. He was responsible for getting our long-awaited “organic certification.” Son, Ben, the Facilities Engineer, has already designed specialty equipment that has cut operating costs considerably.
The family’s primary home, in Cedar Ridge, is adjacent to an 80-acre apple ranch that became the inspiration for their business. They purchased the orchards in 2005, rather than see the property developed into home sites. Some of the apple trees there date back to the early 1900s, and 51 varieties are now present, including 1,700 Honeycrisps, a super-premium eating apple, planted by the Watsons five years ago. After spending three years transitioning into an organic operation, they found that nearly half the apples were not salable. “And that’s how we got into hard cider,” said Jay. “Once we got into hard cider, began to blend it, we found that we had leftover product, and that’s how we got into brandy and vodka.”
The present 160 acre apple ranch on Summers Lane that is home to Indigeny Reserve has gone through the three-year process of pruning and organic certification. It now boasts 20,000 Granny Smiths (used in Indigeny’s crisp hard cider), 400 Red Rome and 7,000 Honeycrisps.
In addition to the tasting room, cidery, distillery and gift shop, the Watsons have developed the 160-acre ranch into a retreat for visitors to enjoy, complete with a park-like setting, tree-lined paths, a covered bridge, picnic grounds and two mile-and-a-half hiking trails; one of them passing an old mine and offering Phoenix Lake views.
Cider Works & Brandy
The ranch harvested almost 300,000 pounds of apples this season. In the cidery, where staff and son Joe do all the processing, is also where the harvested apples rest at 34 degrees in 4,000 square feet of new cold storage.
Outside the cold storage is a huge storage wall of palleted aluminum Indigeny Reserve bottles waiting to be filled. The 12-ounce aluminum package recently won an international design award in Japan. The Watsons plan to triple cider production and sales – to nearly a million bottles – by late 2015.
Interested visitors can see the brandy production part of the operation, which includes a distilling room with a double-pot copper still and the barrel room, where the brandy ages in 55-gallon American oak barrels. The certified organic oak-aged apple brandy, initially released in 2013, comes in distinctive light gold and red 750ml bottles.
Indigeny Reserve Distillery Tours and Tastings
At our long tasting bar that greets visitors, a number of hard ciders are on tap for tasters 21 and over. Our new line of infused vodkas, all triple distilled, are available for tasting at the bar and available through supermarkets in the near future.
Call or check Face Book for special events and offerings.
Tasting Bar Hours
Open 7 days a week except on major holidays
Tasting of hard ciders, brandy and vodkas.
Monday – Wednesday: 10:00 – 4:00
Thursday – Saturday: 10:00 – 5:00
Sunday: 10:00 – 5:00
Always call in advance to confirm distillery tour and tasting hours.
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