ONE-YEAR-OLD CIDERY SERVES UP LOCAL, CRAFT CIDER AND WINES
In 1798, Johnny Appleseed (a.k.a. John Chapman) was busy working the American frontier giving the gift of apples. It was said that Chapman would walk around the country (yes, walk) selling seedling apple trees to the pioneers. His trees were in high demand because they were used to create a tasty alcoholic beverage that turned out to be much safer, and more delicious, than water. For that reason, Johnny Appleseed has become an American legend and a modern-day hero.
But there’s another modern-day apple hero planting seeds in our neck of the woods. Outlier Cellars, also known as Fenceline Cider, has been slowly growing its hard cider business in Montezuma and La Plata counties, and on February 22 the company will be celebrating its one-year anniversary.
The cidery in Mancos has spent the last year in a fury of collecting 120,000 pounds of apples from 36 different area orchards and backyard trees. All of these apples were turned into cider, creating a whole new sort of local craft beverage.
The co-partners in crime, Sam Perry and Neal Wight, have spent a lot of their time, energy, and sweat this last year in business making sure that the ciders they’re creating are hyper-local and remain uniquely delicious. They can thank an amazing community for its help and support, and also the high altitude, dry climate, and short growing season that produces smaller, astringent apples, adding bountiful and complex flavors to the beverage.
The cider, which has been described on a whole as “dry,” is so much more than that, Perry says. The world of craft cider is relatively new, so folks don’t know quite how to put a name to what they are tasting, but Perry and Wight aim to end that. What they’re looking for are folks who can appreciate the subtle, complex layers of a quality cider as much as they do.
“If people are ciderphiles or cider aficionados, they should definitely come check out our lineup, because we have put together some world-class ciders from the region’s best cider apples,” Perry said. And with 8 to 10 different and rotating varieties of cider on tap at any one time, it’s easy to join the club.
But you don’t have to be a cider connoisseur to truly appreciate Outlier Cellar’s line of Fenceline ciders, and to be totally honest, you don’t even have to like cider to enjoy the company’s riverside patio and bar. Of course, they hope you do, but the Mancos taproom’s larger aim is a bit more complex. The crew also wants to create a space to connect with the community and for folks to feel welcome to gather with friends and strangers.
“I feel like we’ve generated a really cool place for people to gather and come together from all walks of life. I’ve met a lot of really interesting folks that I didn’t even know lived in Mancos because there was nowhere really for us to connect previously, and now if feels like people are coming out of the woodwork,” Perry said.
That could be thanks to the warm atmosphere and the super-friendly staff, or it could be because of Tasting Room Manager Ansley Livingston’s knack for bringing in weekly live music and local food trucks.
“It makes me so proud to bring good-quality music here; that our community and it’s really nice,” Livingston said.
It helps that the taproom is along the route to places like Denver, Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and Austin, so Livingston is able to rope up and lasso in musicians on tour who are passing through—and that’s a pretty big deal for such a small town. Live music paired with rotating art exhibits from local artists and a variety of local food trucks, it’s the perfect place to gather with friends.
If you can’t make it out to the taproom, though, the Fenceline ciders are making moves to restaurants and liquor stores. Currently, there are two cider varieties, soon to be three, offered on tap at various restaurants and bottled ready for purchase at most area liquor stores.
And while you’re out, don’t be surprised if you see the Outlier Cellars name on wine bottles, too, because also hitting the stands is wine made by the cider powers that be. The crew at Outlier has brought wine out of the wood- barrel-works and recently bottled two varieties: a table red and a table white made from local grapes and bearing labels designed by local artist Jon Bailey.
“We’ve been happily surprised at how supportive people have been, especially the liquor stores and restaurants that want to carry artisan cider and wines made from local fruit,” said Wight.
Perry mirrors Wight’s sentiment: “We couldn’t be in business without those relationships. It’s a super important part. To be able to stay in business going forward, we depend on those wholesale accounts,” Perry said. “A humble thank you to all our patrons and everyone who has supported us through this first year, and we want to thank the community at large for making it all possible. And a special thank you to The Ore House. Ryan Lowe was super accommodating and open to working with us.”
Love and appreciation are obvious key ingredients of Outlier’s success in the last year. Whether it be from the locals or Perry and Wight’s love and appreciation for everyone involved, it’s a combination of those ingredients that makes Outlier Cellars our modern-day cider heroes.
“And all because of the apple,” added Livingston
One Year Anniversary Party: Friday Feb 22nd | 5pm-close
You Knew Me When March 9th
Dance Monkey Dance March 21st
Birds of Play March 28th
*For a full list of food vendors and events, visit www.outliercellars.com