Cider House Rules

Keeping tradition alive in Oak Glen

History is tucked away behind a stack of boxes labeled "CALIFORNIA APPLES" at Law's Cider Mill.

There, you'll notice a motorized cast-iron cider press, a mid-century relic that was used to render juice from every fall's crop until the early 1980s.

A new press and a new Law–James, born in 1982–have both been features of the small Oak Glen stand ever since.

Despite working a full-time job managing non-native plant-removal crews along the Santa Ana River Watershed, James Law spends an impressive number of hours manning the machine he grew up with. He'll be pressing between 200 and 500 gallons of cider a week until around Thanksgiving (click here to see a slide show of the process).

We knew that apples were the sole ingredient in a bottle of Law cider ($12 a gallon), but we were surprised to learn that there's another ambient element at work, too: oak. From the slats on the press to the 430-gallon vats to the oak-barrel bottling chamber, the cider is constantly in contact with well-worn wood before it hits a glass bottle.

Law said that they will eventually be forced to trade oak for stainless steel, to appease the health department, but he fears the resulting change in flavor. So taste the Law tradition while you still can.

Law's Cider Mill, 38392 Oak Glen Rd., Oak Glen; 909-797-3130