With Guthrie Ciderworks, Encinitas residents Sara and Horacio Devoto turned a cidermaking hobby into their own business and a brand new lifestyle.
Guthrie specializes in a cider that is closer to wine in taste, not too sweet and not packed with extra sugar in unique flavor varieties such as the refreshing Mango-Pineapple or the Rubus Citrus where raspberry and grapefruit come together to create a cider sangria.
“Our ciders are extremely low in sugar,” Sara said. “Our Brut has just a half gram of sugar per 12 ounces. It’s not unusual for other cider brands to have around 20 grams.”
“Without the sugar, you can really taste the flavors,” Horacio said.
Guthrie ciders are sold in bottles and cans and can be found on draft in local establishments, with their own tasting room in Miramar.
Horacio is originally from Argentina and Sara from New York—they met in Minnesota while in graduate school. Both of them were newbies to the industry as Horacio was a banker and Sara an attorney when Horacio first discovered and started experimenting with ciders 10 years ago.
“Horacio had been drinking wine and was looking for a lower-alcohol alternative. He got really into ciders, but he was frustrated that many of the ciders on the market were so sweet,” Sara said.
Horacio took to the basement in Minnesota and became “obsessed,” experimenting with a variety of different juice and yeast combinations. “It was the hobby that got out of control,” Sara said.
“It’s so cold there and with six months of winter, there was a lot of time to be down in the basement,” Horacio said.
With all the testing and tinkering, Horacio perfected a cider that was just what he was looking for: not too sweet, more similar to wine, enhanced with complex flavors. At first, their ciders were just for family and friends but three years ago they took a leap and started their own business, naming it Guthrie for Sara’s maiden name and their son’s middle name.
Launching the cidery included a move from frozen Minnesota to warm Encinitas—as a graduate of UC Santa Cruz, Horacio had been itching to return to California.
“San Diego just seemed like such a perfect place,” Sara said of its booming craft beer and spirits scene and commitment to quality and innovation. “It’s a place where people really value well-made food and drinks.”
It took about a year to build-out the cidery, working through a challenging permitting process. While other breweries or cideries might start with a tasting room first, the Devotos started first with distribution, landing accounts in local restaurants two years ago. Their first accounts were Viewpoint Brewery in Del Mar, Bier Garden in Encinitas and Baron’s Markets, all are still clients today. “We’re in over 100 places now, it’s been really fun,” Sara said of placement in BevMo and Jimbo’s and their mindful expansion into the Orange County and Los Angeles markets.
“People in Encinitas and North County are so good about supporting local,” Sara said as Guthrie can now be found at Fish 101 and Seaside Market. “That part of it really is nice and it’s fun to see our products on the shelves, it’s still kind of hard to believe.”
The tasting room has been open for about a year, tucked into an industrial business park in “Beeramar,” open Thursday through Sunday with seven varieties on tap to try.
The Brut is their flagship cider: dry, crisp and clean with bright apple and light oak flavors. They do a Rosé with dry apple cider infused with hibiscus leaves, a cherry flavor with cardamom spice infused cider and the Spiced Mate includes a caffeine boost of Yerba Mate.
Guthrie Bird, their collaboration with Bird Rock Coffee, is what Sara calls “the breakfast cider,” infused with coffee, coconut and banana. “People are really responding to that one,” she said.
Three years in, Sara still practices law but Horacio has become a full-time cidermaker, always experimenting and still healthily obsessed.
“There are endless combinations of what you can do so you’re never really satisfied,” he says.
Even though they sell a lot of the Brut and people really love it, Horacio can’t help but want to tweak it. But Sara remains firm: “The Brut is The Brut. It shall not be changed.”
Visit Guthrie Ciderworks at 6496 Marindustry Drive or check out guthriecider.com