Past, Present and Future with Jean Marie Cidery
The co-founders of Jean Marie Cidery met in a most unlikely place: a Crossfit gym in San Luis Obispo. With different backgrounds seemingly unsuited to a business partnership — with Connor Meznarich is from the wine and hard cider industry and Branden Welshons is a CPA — the two started tossing around the idea of combining their talents and creating a hard cider company.
In 2015, Jean Marie Cidery was born, and their first ciders were produced in 2016. Since then, they’ve steadily increased production and distribution, and today they have a strong following and reputation of creating innovative ciders. Honey, hops, and kombucha are just a few of the approaches they’ve used so far with great success.
We met this team a few years ago at a cider event and have enjoyed both tasting and watching their growth and creativity. We recently caught up with them to see what’s new in their cider-making world and the cider industry as a whole. Here’s what they had to say.
What past experiences have influenced your cider making?
In addition to working in wineries, Connor worked for a time at Bristols Cider House in Atascadero. Bristols is the original hard cider producer on the Central Coast, opening in 1994 and producing authentic craft hard ciders from the founders’ childhood home of Bristol, England.
“At Bristols, we’d experiment with different fruits, hops, etc.,” he said. “That really opened my eyes to the idea that I could infuse cider with practically any kind of fruit, spices, yeasts, hops, and other ingredients with great results.”
What are the current projects that excite you the most?
“Not long ago, we created Love Child, which combines our hard cider with Whalebird’s Jasmine Bliss Kombucha,” explained Connor. “It’s pink, boozy and boochy! And now we’re working on canning it, which is super exciting.”
Other exciting news? The team is also working on trying to open a tasting room by the end of the year. We can’t wait for that!
Jean Marie Cidery currently has several ciders in production, including:
What do you believe is the future of cider making from your perspective?
While Connor believes that cider makers will continue to use different kinds of fruits and add unique and interesting flavors to their ciders, he sees something new on the horizon. “I believe that more and more cider makers will follow the hard seltzer trend,” he said, “and start to put a lot more effort into creating a low calorie, no sugar ‘cider seltzer of sorts.”
What is one thing you would like your fans to know about… about your cider, your team, your approach, whatever you like?
“Our cider is dry!” says Branden. “It says HONEY in big letters on the cans, but that’s only because we legally had to put that.” While many other brands use a dextrose sweetener as their priming sugar, Jean Marie Cidery uses honey to can/keg condition its ciders. The cider is then fermented in the can to almost complete dryness.
“Don’t be afraid,” he added. “Our ciders are not sweet.”
What are you excited most about this year’s Central Coast Cider Festival?
Connor and Branden like that the event brings the majority of local cider makers together to share their products with one another. “We also really enjoy meeting, and talking to, the attendees,” added Connor “The event and the experience really opens their eyes to what cider can be.”
Central Coast Cider Festival
About the name.
Jean Marie Cidery combines the middle names of the two people who’ve been the biggest supporters of Branden and Connor their whole lives: their Moms. Their flagship cider, named Mama’s Boy, celebrates this encouragement and is a dry cider from a blend of dessert apples that is can/keg conditioned with local honey.