Former Chico resident finds success in cider

CHICO — A former Chico resident is upping production on her cider business following a successful launch during a difficult time for new businesses.

Bex Pezzullo runs Sincere Cider, a cider business she founded in the beginning of 2020 after finding a passion for her Italian heritage and the creativity of fermenting alcohol.

Pezzullo’s interest in the alcohol process began when she was waiting tables at a restaurant in the Bay Area. While working at the restaurant, Pezzullo said the owner began teaching her about farm-to-table food and the process of making wine.

“I just fell back in love with Italy and my culture,” Pezzullo said. “I got to travel to Italy a few times and work the harvest and became an Italian wine specialist and managed to build a short career as a sommelier.”

After moving and having a garage for the first time in years, Pezzullo said she saw an opportunity to put her knowledge to more use.

“I ended up moving to Oakland, and when I was in Oakland, I had a garage,” Pezzullo said. “I turned it into a little baby winery, and then I got really mad that I could only do it once a year.”

Following experiments with making her own beer, Pezzullo decided there was no use in making something she didn’t enjoy drinking.

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“I really don’t like drinking beer,” Pezzullo said. “So I started really having fun with apple juice. I would travel up to the Delta and get apples from growers and bring them back down to the garage, then all my friends would come over and we would process it and smoke some meats and have our own harvest day every quarter.”

While doing various jobs in the corporate world, Pezzullo said her interest always drifted back to making her own cider. Eventually, she decided to take the leap and pursue it full time.

“I took the leap at the worst time to take a leap,” Pezzullo said. “I canned the first batch the first week of March 2020 and I had a really great go to market plan.”

Pezzullo said part of the plan was to have her cider available at food truck festival organizer Off the Grid’s events which could attract 10,000 people per event in the Bay Area, concessions at San Francisco International and Oakland Airport’s and local concert venues with which she had made connections.

“I had all these really great placements where it was always a new crowd coming through,” Puzzollo said. “That was March 6, 2020. On March 13, I had nothing except a warehouse full of aluminum cans and apple juice.”

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When lockdown came, Pezzullo came to Chico to be with family. She said throughout it all, she never stopped trying to innovate new ways to get her cider to market.

“I just started coming down to the Bay Area and doing deliveries, running routes and paying bartenders that were laid off to do the deliveries and grew kind of a grassroots sales channel,” Pezzullo said. “Eventually we got attention from distribution and I managed to partner up with Wine Warehouse for California, the third largest distributor in the state.”

Now Pezzullo says Sincere Cider is available through all of Northern California to Northern Nevada and Southern California.

“I’m super glad I did it,” Pezzullo said. “If I had been in the event industry still during COVID, I would have been laid off — I wouldn’t have had control over my destiny.”

Aside from the dry apple cider flavor Sincere Cider sells, the company will also be introducing a fall themed pomegranate flavor with hints or orange and cardamom.

In Chico, Sincere Cider is available for purchase at BevMo, Chico Natural Foods Cooperative, New Earth Market and Star Liquor.

For more information, visit https://www.sincerecider.com.

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