Logo for salem business journal
Rich Duncan Construction
Copyright © 2024 • Salem Business Journal Powered by WhirLocal

Salem-based La Familia Cider celebrates anniversary, expands into Portland

Written by Kathy Hall on May. 22nd, 2024
Featured Image photo for Salem-based La Familia Cider celebrates anniversary, expands into Portland

La Familia Cider Company was founded by husband-and-wife team Shani and José Gonzalez.  The couple embarked on an adventure to turn their idea to create a Mexican-inspired hard cider company into a reality, opening a Salem taproom in 2017 with their family. Now they are set to open a second location early this summer in Southeast Portland.

It all began when Shani and Jose went to their first craft beverage tasting.  They became inspired to blend the flavors of Pacific Northwest hard apple cider with the agua fresca fruit infused drinks their families made and enjoyed while growing up.  Shani looked for those hard cider flavors but couldn’t find any.  Recognizing a potential business opportunity the couple thought, “Why don’t we do it?” 

Entrepeneurial Spirit

While most people have ideas but never act on them, the Gonzalez family took the next step and started experimenting.  

Jose asked his mother Lourdes Gonzalez, who lives in Kaiser, to make up batches of her signature aqua frescas.  Then he and Shani mixed them with apple cider to find combinations they liked. 

After some trial and error, they settled on four flavors, Jamaica made with hibiscus, Tamarindo made with tamarind root, Guayaba made with guava, and Manzana – a traditional hard apple cider. La Familia Cider now serves these four varieties of hard cider at their tap room along with other local hard ciders, craft beers and cider-based cocktails. Their products are distributed to grocery stores, restaurants, and bars across Oregon. 

It has been a journey for the family business to get to this point.

No strangers to hard work.

José was born in Portland and was the first American-born member of his family. As a boy, José worked alongside his family as a farmworker in the Willamette Valley until he was 12 years old.  He said he “always wondered where the fruit they picked ended up. “

Now he owns Tu Casa Real Estate and serves as a Salem City Councilor. Shani works as a paralegal for an immigration law practice. With their full-time jobs consuming their time, they knew they would need help from their family to make the business work.  

“We approached my son Jay Jay and my daughter Jazzelle,” about taking a lead in the business, “and they both said yes,” said Jose. Now Jay Jay, 29, will run the new Portland tap room and Jazzelle, 26, leads the Salem location.

Jazzelle said that the best part about working with family is that she and her brother “have gotten a lot closer and communicate well about business.”  When customers visit their tap rooms they are “seeing the face of our company.” 

Salem roots branch out into Portland

Through key contacts, Jose said the family met the owners of Portland Cider Company, Jeff and Lynda Parrish, who “encouraged us, educated us, and helped us turn our idea into a commercially viable product.” 

La Familia Cider is made at Portland Cider’s commercial production facility in Clackamas. Jose describes their ciders as “semi-sweet and made with real fruit, no additives or preservatives and fresh northwest apple juice – no water added.”

After creating their ciders, they started selling them at the Salem Saturday Market. Shani explained that their customers would frequently ask, “Where can we visit you?” and at that point the family realized they should consider opening a tap room. 

With the help of a friend in commercial real estate they built a tap room just a block from Salem’s Riverfront Park.  

Shani said Salem has a perfect laid-back environment for their cider business, “Salem is relaxing and you can enjoy life.  It doesn’t take too long to feel like you belong.”

La Familia Cider will open a second tap room early this summer at 3638 S.E. Hawthorne Boulevard in Portland – a former Portland Cider Co. location. 

Jose wants people to know that La Familia Cider supports other businesses in the community by buying local products whenever possible and wants others to realize the impact that buying local has.  He said it “may cost a little bit more, but buying from them has a huge, positive impact on the local economy.” 

La Familia Cider Company will be celebrating its anniversary over Cinco de Mayo weekend at their Salem taproom – 231 Court Street SE.  Customers can also enjoy food at that location made by their food partner Azul’s Tacos.

Privacy PolicyTerms Of ServiceCookie Policy