philo bottles

Yay! It’s hot!

At least, it’s hot by San Francisco standards, and when I wake up and find the cats have made neat little piles of their fur next to the garbage can, I’m thinking it’s hot.

Last May, we took our first trip to Mendocino. After breakfast at the most amazing bed and breakfast in the area and a hike along the coastal cliffs, we drove inland along the Redwooded Rt. 128 to the Philo Apple Farm.

When we arrived, marveling over the 15° temperature change from the coast, the place was silent. We probably would have thought it was deserted if we hadn’t caught sight of a cooking class being held in the main house, but instead we just found the stillness — broken only by two farm cats wandering out to roll in the dirt at our feet and mew for pets — peaceful. Pleasantly left to our own devices, we walked around the farm and examined the kitchen garden and the tiny cabins. We enjoyed the seven chickens being chased into a rose bush by a single rooster, we decided not to look in said rose bush to see what was going on, and we bought some cider. Hard cider.

philo sign

The Philo Apple Farm is known for many things applelicious. At their old fashioned farm stand, which adorably operates on the honor system, they sell vinegar and syrup, chutney and juice, jam and jellies. When in season, they’ve even got apples. However, what got our attention was the open crate of unlabeled bottles on the loading dock. While the pristinely labeled and primly shelved bottles of hard cider were going for $8.50, this hard cider was selling for $6.00 a bottle.

“Torn labels, moldy labels, no labels!” the cardboard sign above announced, “Still the same good stuff!”

Something about the layer of dust coating the dark green glass made this clutch of cider seem more authentic, more farmhouse-y, more like what you would find in Normandy. So we went for it. We didn’t need to pay $2.50 extra per bottle for all that window dressing! We shared one bottle that night in our little cabin and heartily agreed with the sign: “good stuff!” (However, I have to admit that the guarantee, “if you are not completely satisfied, blah, blah,” now has me saying, “If you don’t like the way I’m driving, blah, blah!” or “I’M out of order? YOU’RE out of order! This whole COURTROOM is blah, blah!”)

Thursday, just as the heat of the day was melting into the blue of night, just as the sunburn I acquired planting at Land’s End started to flare with comic book stars, we turned off all the lights and cooled off with two icy glasses of cloudy Apple Farm cider by the glow of the Democratic National Convention.

philo crates

The Philo Apple Farm cider may have had a few more particulates than it did three months ago, but it was just as bracing and refreshing as that first May bottle. Even better, it was the perfect nightcap to a hot, sweaty San Francisco day.

Visit the Philo Apple Farm for cider, chickens, apples, or blah, blah.

The Apple Farm
Bates and Schmitt
18501 Greenwood Rd
Philo, CA 95466

Philo Apple Farm Hard Cider: Ahhhhh 30 August,2008Stephanie Lucianovic

  • sam

    they also have Bramleys and Cox’s orange pippins last week (and maybe this week too). Rare to get English heirloom varieties. Check them out!


Stephanie Lucianovic

A former picky eater, Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic is a writer, editor, and lapsed cheesemonger in the San Francisco Bay Area. A culinary school grad with an English lit degree, she has written for,, Popular Science, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Additionally, she has been writing for KQED’s Bay Area Bites since its inception and is the website editor for KQED’s Emmy-award winning show “Check, Please! Bay Area.”

Stephanie was an original recapper at Television Without Pity and worked on a line of cookbooks for William-Sonoma as well as in the back kitchen of a Jacques Pépin cooking show. Her first book, SUFFERING SUCCOTASH: A Picky Eater’s Quest To Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Perigee Books, 2012) is a non-fiction narrative and a heartfelt and humorous exposé on the inner lives of picky eaters that Scientific American called “hilarious” and “the perfect popular science book for a reader that doesn’t think he or she wants to read a popular science book.”

Stephanie lives in Menlo Park with her husband, three-year-old son, assorted cats, and has been blogging at The Grub Report for over a decade.

Follow her on Twitter at @grubreport

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor