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An Apple a Day

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An Apple a Day
Photo by Albemarle Ciderworks

QUENCH YOUR THIRST ON VIRGINIA’S CIDER TRAIL  

Sometimes the ugliest apples make the best cider. That’s why Virginia’s community of cidermakers are constantly seeking out rare and heirloom varieties of the fruit to create their concoctions. With eight active cideries scattered throughout the commonwealth, Virginia is helping lead the charge to revive this historic beverage (Editor’s note: see Friday’s post). Today the cider industry is seeing impressive growth; Nielsen reports that cider sales have increased 87 percent by volume in the last year alone. And while the big breweries — like Samuel Adams and Stella Artois — are quickly jumping on the apple wagon, homegrown cideries like Foggy Ridge and Blue Bee are working hard to maintain the unique traditions of the beverage. To get a taste of what Virginia’s cideries are churning out, grab a designated driver and hit the back roads to visit these orchards and tasting rooms:

Albermarle Cider Works. Located just south of Charlottesville, this rural cidery began as a farm for “vintage” apples, specializing in a variety of obscure tree fruits. In 2009, they started fermenting and bottling cider, with offerings like Old Virginia Winesap and Virginia Hewe’s Crab.
Blue Bee Cider. Virginia’s only urban cidery, Richmond’s Blue Bee fittingly blends modern and traditional fermentation methods. Their old-fashioned Charred Ordinary blend is semi-sparkling, dry, and sharp.
Bold Rock Hard Cider. Deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the banks of the Rockfish River, Bold Rock pours the smooth and mellow Virginia Draft and the crisp and refreshing Virginia Apple, among other flavors.
Castle Hill Cider. Originally built in 1764, this plantation in the heart of Virginia’s equestrian country now produces some stellar cider. Grab a bottle of their Black Twig cider, aged in Tennessee whiskey barrels, and share it with a friend in the orchard.
Foggy Ridge Cider. Owner Diane Flynt became an ambassador for America’s cider renaissance when she planted the 20th century’s first southern cider orchard in 1997. Today, the farm grows its own heirloom apples and creates award-winning cider not far from the North Carolina border.
Old Hill Cider. After growing up on this Shenandoah Valley apple orchard, Shannon Showalter bought it from his father and started making cider. His artisan offerings now include the citrusy Yesteryear, the complex Cidermaker’s Barrel, and the crisp and clean Betwixt.
Potter’s Craft Cider. Using traditional production methods and local apples, this cidery northwest of Charlottesville was founded by two Princeton alums who grew tired of the corporate world. Try their tart Farmhouse Dry.
Winchester CiderworksHomesick for the ciders of his native England, Stephen Schuurman started experimenting with ciders and debuted Winchester Ciderworks’ first blend, Malice, in 2013. Their recently released Wicked Wiles are aged in rum and rye barrels.

Find out more about Virginia’s cider scene during Cider Week Virginia, scheduled for November 14–23.