Do you ever find a new place and are glad you discovered it in its hidden gem stage? Argus Cidery – a cidery with a big heart and a big taste – can be found in the Texas Hill country about 20 minutes outside Austin (It was even nearby our Pyrotechnics class. Can I see a classy combo? I kid.). There is CIDER, in TEXAS, y’all. If you’re looking for things to do in Austin, it is located on what Shaun and I lovingly refer to as “Booze Row” (there are 2 other breweries and a winery) and we are already planning our next visit out.
What started as a background at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, lead to an unassuming kitsch warehouse filled to the brim with personality and alcoholic goodness. Wes Mickel made his way from Napa Valley to the rolling hills of Central Texas to pursue his love for hard cider. Now here is where things get a little different. Wes handles apples with the same respect and care that vineyards handle their grapes. He uses 100% Texas apples and is our first hard cider. Not only does he grasp the small business concept that is held so dearly in Austin but is sourcing from around the State. Kudos, man!
Argus Cidery has a distinct feel to it. In their tasting room, Prohibition-style decor clings to the walls while keeping it surprisingly modern. Even after a big Texas storm that left us with a 98 degree day and 100% humidity, this place was PACKED. My favorite part was when Shaun kept repeating, “I really love this.” He doesn’t exactly get excitable about things. This is huge!
For a mere $30 ($10 for the tasting and $20 for the picnic) a person you get tastings of their ciders and still wines along with a rotating weekly menu cooked by Wes from his favorite cookbooks. The weekend we went they were having an ode to “Into the Vietnamese Kitchen” by Andrea Nguyen. Keep in mind that these highly coveted spots need reservations and do tend to sell out.
Welcome to your picnic. All bundled in a cute brown bag, our taste buds had no clue what was about to hit them. Bahn mi, papaya salad, fried shrimp chips (*SWOON*), and almond cookies. I don’t even do dessert and was enchanted by these pieces of heaven.
Wes and Mary (his wife) moved us along quickly into the ciders and still wines. This girl has gotta get her taste on! His passion for the craft is apparent in the cider he produces. We got to experience the following:
Idalou Brut 2012: Their newest creation, this cider is clean, a bit punchy with nice apple tones. It is fabulous for a super hot summer day (like the day we were there). Varietals: 30% Golden Delicious, 30% Red Delicious, 20% Jonathan, 10% Gala, 5% Pink Lady, 5% Cameo
Lady Goldsmith 2011: This was our favorite of the ciders (and we bought a bottle for home). This was much more buttery, smooth, and had a nice golden hue. The flavors lingered a bit as well. Super nice! Varietals: 30% Golden Delicious, 25% Grannysmith, 25% Pink Lady, 20% Jonagold
While we were much bigger fans of the ciders, the wines are still worth mentioning.
High Planes 2012: This tart and fruity wine leaves you with a little spice in the end. Varietals: Golden and Red Delicious, Pink Lady, Cameo, Gala.
Julio 2012: This one punched us in the mouth with a spicy flavor. After chatting a bit about our confused taste buds, this one seems to be a hit or miss. The people who really like it really love it. Varietals: Grannysmith, Pink Lady, Jonagold.
Baxter’s Reserve 2011: This was the oldest of their still wines. This one seemed spicy as well (but not in comparison to Julio). There is a bit of vanilla and allspice in this one with an easier finish. Varietals: Gala, Cameo, Jonathan, Jonagold, Early Fuji.
As Wes lead us into their wine making facility at the end of the tour to grab our bottle of Lady Goldsmith, I couldn’t help myself and asked him a question that had been burning in my mind during our experience.
“What do you think of the culture differences found between how people in the UK view cider over the views of people in the United States?”
“Oh yeah, that is all they drank when they were 15. This is completely different.”
We can tell, Wes! Now to convince all my friends in London. 😛
DISCLOSURE: While we were guests of Argus Cidery, all opinions are our own.