The King of Apple Juice

Stephen G. Martinelli, maker of gold medal–winning cider, is a giant of juice.

juice king, Stephen Martinelli

Martinelli didn't fall far from the tree.

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By 1909, when crop mavens declared Watsonville, Calif., near Monterey Bay, the world's largest producer of apples, Swiss immigrant Stephen G. Martinelli was already busy turning the fruit into gold medal–winning cider, as he'd done since 1868. These days S. John Martinelli, the founder's great-grandson, keeps the Watsonville apple presses flowing. Information: (800) 662-1868, www.martinellis.com.

Q Where do you get your apples?
A Almost entirely from California. Nearly all the Watsonville orchards sell to us. Sometimes we blend mellow apples out of the Northwest with the tart local fruit.

Q What's the best juice apple?
A The Newtown pippin. It's a flavorful heirloom variety that's flourished here since the 1800s. It's got the perfect balance of sweetness and tartness all by itself.

Q Why are coastal apples so good?
A With our cool summers, apples stay on the tree longer. Hot weather causes fruit to drop off before it's ripe.

Q Are cider and apple juice different?
A In the West, the only difference is the label. In the East, cider is that fresh-squeezed, unpasteurized juice at roadside stands. In England, it's fermented juice.

Q How many apples go into in a bottle of your juice?
A Two-plus in every 10-ounce bottle.

Q So, do you drink your two apples a day?
A Absolutely—usually at lunch. My kids drink apple juice morning, noon, and night. It's a good thing I don't have to buy it.

Photography by Shmuel Thaler

This article was first published in November 2005. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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