Wes Mickel

Wes Mickel

Owner, Argus Cidery

Inside the tasting room at Argus Cidery, Wes Mickel’s handiwork is abundant. From the custom-built picnic-style tables to the overhead centerpiece light fixture, Mickel had a hand in the creation of most all the elements in the space, including the mirrors behind the bar, which he stripped and treated to achieve a vintage look. “We knew we wanted to have sort of an industrial feel to it with touches of wood,” Mickel explains of the tasting room, which opened in April and comfortably holds about 50 people. With the help of interior designer Lilianne Steckel, Mickel took a DIY approach to customizing the 1600-square-foot space. “We wanted it to feel like a place where you could come with your friends and relax for the afternoon,” Mickel says.

A chef by training, the Little Rock, Arkansas, native spent four and a half years in the Bay Area before relocating to Austin. He says it was trying Texas apples that persuaded him to start the cidery. “The apples here in Texas are amazing and the juice they produce is really special,” Mickel explains. “To other people it might just be apple juice, but to me it’s really, really incredible.”

Mickel experimented with making his first cider while still in high school, though he admits, “It tasted terrible.” Since then he’s had time to refine his process, with Argus producing three sparkling ciders and three or four still apple wines per year since the launch in 2010. “I’d always just been interested in the manipulation of flavors and cooking and fermentation,” Mickel says. To produce his ciders Mickel sources apples from farmers across Texas, choosing dessert apples for their high sugar concentration. “We’ve found that people really like something closer to champagne,” he says. “Part of the reason people like our ciders is because they’re dry and they’re slightly oaked. People really like the bubbles too.”

Tasting room visitors can experience the ciders for themselves Saturday afternoons, along with a small “breads and spreads” menu, or a rotating, cookbook-inspired picnic menu, by appointment. Mickel says he wanted to open the tasting room to be able to interact with customers directly. “It’s really special for us to be able to connect with people and hear what they like and what they don’t like, and that helps us figure out what direction we’re going to take next.” For more information about Argus Cidery, visit arguscidery.com.

Album

Wes Mickel, owner of Argus Cidery, cured bacon and paired it with farmers' market tomatoes and brioche from Whole Foods.
The Mickels are joined by their dog for dinner on the sofa where a festive wallpaper from Anthropologie adorns the wall.
The couple stocks their bar with gin, bitters, beer, wine, vermouth, bourbon and, of course, cider.
Wes's wife, Mary, found this vintage print at a thrift shop in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
A friend of the Mickels', Lilianne Steckle, designed the interior and helped select items for the space from Round Top.
A few of Wes's experiments.
Storage at the cidery.
The Mickels were inspired by light fixtures their designer Lilianne Steckle found online & they wired and hung it up themselves.
The apple on the wall of the cidery is made up of collected corks and was imagined by designer Lilianne Steckle.
The chalkboard is used for notes on cider making, schedules, proposed production, prep lists and pars.
Wes' Profile in Style