By Jill Becker
If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then Nicki and Andrew Wheeler will likely live long, healthy lives. The spouses of 15 years are the CEO and head ciderist respectively of Treehorn Cider in Marietta, a craft cidery that transforms the juice of fermented apples into a low-alcohol beverage that’s rapidly gaining popularity across the country. This forty-something pair gave up their office jobs to help start Treehorn back in 2014 with five other partners, and the fruits of their labor can now be found at more than 500 restaurants, bars, package and grocery stores across Georgia and Alabama.
In 2017 they added a tasting room to their brewing facility, where visitors can sample ciders infused with everything from cherries to chile peppers. When first presented with the idea of opening a cidery in 2013, Nicki says, “Our first instinct was: Cider? Like many people, we had only had super-sweet ciders before really starting to explore the history of cider and the wide variety of styles.” Soon they were experimenting with making hard cider at home to ensure they could actually do it.
Working together so closely day in and day out can present challenges. “We’re still married, so that’s something,” says Nicki. “All kidding aside, it takes a lot of balance, humor and grace. Separating our home life from work life is nearly impossible, so it’s good we do something we love.” After being around apples all day, you might think the Wheelers would get sick of them. But they insist they don’t. “They really are the best fruit,” says Nicki. (Honeycrisp and Pink Lady are favorite varieties for both.)
When asked what Treehorn ciders they like best, Andrew says, “Probably Miyabi. It’s flavored with shiso and yuzu, and nobody else makes anything like it.” Nicki’s favorite is Treehorn Roots. “It’s zero sugar and drinks like a very dry white wine with strong apple and tropical fruit notes,” she says. When not slaving away at Treehorn, the duo likes to head to Sope Creek Park. “We love the refugenof quiet and nature,” says Nicki. “And our dog really loves splashing in the creek.” Nicki says their other top spots include The Wing on Roswell Road (“we’ve been eating there for decades”) and Heywood’s Provision Company (“one of the best butcher shops in the metro area”), where Andrew apprenticed for more than a year before starting Treehorn.