About Indigeny Reserve
Co-founders Jay and Judy Watson officially opened Indigeny Reserve to the public in 2012, and already it ranks as one of the Mother Lode’s top tourist attractions, according to TripAdvisor and Yelp, top consumer review sites.
Jay is the former owner-operator of a San Francisco-based communications business. He often greets visitors and leads tours of the facilities when he’s not making brandy and vodka. Judy is the former owner-director of Skytop Fitness Retreat in Sonora. She is the Program Director for Indigeny, focusing on guest speakers with the latest in sustainable living concepts, and offers Indigeny as an opportunity for young musicians to come and gain experience with public performance.
Son, Joe, is the Orchard Manager, Cider Maker and Chief Lab Technician. He was responsible for getting our long-awaited “organic certification.” Son, Ben, the Facilities Engineer, has already designed specialty equipment that has cut operating costs considerably.
The organic orchards and rustic building that contain the tasting room, gift shop, cidery and distillery reflect the Watson’s sustainability commitment. Constructed using harvested and re-purposed cedar and oak wood, milled on-site, the building reflects a distinctive artisan look, from its wood-plank ceilings and beam work, down to the barrel room’s double-doors of wood and hand-forged iron.
The family’s primary home, in Cedar Ridge, is adjacent to an 80-acre apple ranch that became the inspiration for their business. They purchased the orchards in 2005, rather than see the property developed into home sites. Some of the apple trees there date back to the early 1900s, and 51 varieties are now present, including 1,700 Honeycrisps, a super-premium eating apple, planted by the Watsons five years ago. After spending three years transitioning into an organic operation, they found that nearly half the apples were not salable. “And that’s how we got into hard cider,” said Jay. “Once we got into hard cider, began to blend it, we found that we had leftover product, and that’s how we got into brandy and vodka.”
The present 160 acre apple ranch on Summers Lane that is home to Indigeny Reserve has gone through the three-year process of pruning and organic certification. It now boasts 20,000 Granny Smiths (used in Indigeny’s crisp hard cider), 400 Red Rome and 7,000 Honeycrisps.
In addition to the tasting room, cidery, distillery and gift shop, the Watsons have developed the 160-acre ranch into a retreat for visitors to enjoy, complete with a park-like setting, tree-lined paths, a covered bridge, picnic grounds and two mile-and-a-half hiking trails; one of them passing an old mine and offering Phoenix Lake views.