This feature is part 2 of our new Tastemakers series, in which Elizabeth Winslow uncovers the stories behind the most inspiring food artisans, distillers, retailers, farmers, restauranteurs, bakers, chefs, tastemakers, and innovators. For our first installment with Fresa’s, click here.
There’s a new scene brewing in Austin: just southwest of town where the city lights give way to the big and bright stars at night, a new constellation of craft breweries and liquor distilleries are setting up shop. Wes Mickel’s Argus Cider is the Lone Star State’s only hard cider made with local Texas apples, which he loves for their high sugar content and for the farmers who battle crazy Texas weather to produce them. With a yeasty nose and a bone dry finish, Argus Cider is more sparkling wine than fizzy fruit drink, with floral notes and toasty accents from barrel aging. With the help of cellar manager Jules Peterson, Wes has built a gorgeous new tasting room where folks can enjoy glasses of sparkling cider, still ciders by the glass, barrel tastings of whatever is fermenting at the moment, and tasty provisions for the peckish. Wes’s experience in the most exalted kitchens of the California Wine Country informs his commitment to quality and respect for the traditions of this centuries-old drink: think Thomas Keller meets Bilbo Baggins of the Shire. Recently, we took a little road trip out to Argus Cidery to have a glass of bubbly ourselves with Wes, Jules, and Louis the Cidery dog to talk apples, giving trees, culinary inspiration and Mexican prison hooch.
*photography by thomas winslow