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Five Stops Through Virginia Cider Country

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Five Stops Through Virginia Cider Country
Celebrating in Virginia Cider Country Text by Matt Dobie. Photo courtesy of Old Hill Cider.

After years of being, at best, a peripheral beverage choice, hard cider is in the midst of a significant renaissance. It was the drink of choice in colonial America. Every plantation owner made cider, drank cider, and bragged about their cider. Even John Adams attributed his good health and longevity to a tankard of cider before breakfast. But a host of factors led to the industry’s demise, including the Temperance movement, immigration patterns, and westward expansion. Luckily, a growing number of cidermakers are reviving the tradition and bringing with them fine, artisan libations. Virginia is a microcosm of this ever escalating cider craze, boasting the perfect climate and historical clout. So let’s take a trip to some of the sweet spots for sipping in Virginia cider country.

Photo courtesy of Albemarle Ciderworks
Albemarle Ciderworks. Photo courtesy of Albemarle Ciderworks

Albemarle Ciderworks

What was once a nursery devoted to old and nearly extinct apple varieties has blossomed into an ambitious cidery regularly producing topnotch seasonal varietals. Stop by their tasting room and adjacent patio tucked into the gorgeous, rolling hills of Albemarle County. You’re sure to meet a member of the Shelton family, who own and operate every facet of cider production. Try their flagship cider, “Jupiter’s Legacy,” a complex blend with a round mouthfeel and a long finish, balanced by bright acidity and apple tartness. (2545 Rural Ridge Lane, North Garden, Virginia)

VISITING HOURS
Wednesdays – Sundays, 11am to 5pm
Website

Blue Bee Cider

Located in downtown Richmond, Blue Bee Cider is Virginia’s only urban cidery. They pride themselves on variety, offering old-fashioned ciders like the “Charred Ordinary,” and more adventurous styles like the “Hopsap Shandy,” in which the addition of cascade hops to the apple blend creates floral and citrus notes, appealing to aficionados of beer, wine, and cider alike. A truly unique stop on the cider trail, take a break from the country and enjoy a night on the town. (212 West Sixth Street, Richmond, Virginia)

VISITING HOURS
Open Seven Days a Week; Hours Vary
Website

Photo by Kristen Finn
Castle Hill Cider. Photo by Kristen Finn

Castle Hill Cider

Lush green fields, reflective lakes, and tree covered hillsides will be your surroundings as you sip some of the finest cider the region has to offer. Since its inception in 1764, Castle Hill has hosted explorers, acclaimed authors, and U.S. presidents, even providing solace to fleeing politicians during the American Revolution. In keeping with this distinct historical focus, they produce “Levity”, the only commercial cider that utilizes the 8,000-year-old process of fermenting in clay amphorae called kvevri. Makes for a dry, full-bodied delight. (6065 Turkey Sag Road, Keswick, Virginia)

VISITING HOURS
Open Seven Days a Week; 11am to 5pm
Website

Diane Flynt at Foggy Ridge Cider. Photo by Kate Medley
Foggy Ridge Cider. Photo by Kate Medley

Foggy Ridge Cider

Guilty of treating her trees like individuals, cidermaker Diane Flynt’s love for her orchard can be tasted in her outstanding cider. Her attention to detail is matched by her passion for originality, combining American heirloom apples with traditional English and French cider apples. The result is an effervescent beverage with uncommon depth and balance. This strategy has worked so well that in 2013, a New York Times tasting panel awarded Foggy Ridge’s “Serious Cider” first prize in a sampling of 20 American dry ciders. (1328 State Road 656, Dugspur, Virginia)

VISITING HOURS
Open Seven Days a Week; hours vary
Website

Photo courtesy of Old Hill Cider
Old Hill Cider. Photo courtesy of Old Hill Cider

Old Hill Cider

Cidermaker Shannon Showalter grew up on the orchard that now serves as a home for his thriving cider business. A huge proponent of the farm-to-table and locavore movements, he continues the family tradition by supplying the local community with fruits, vegetables, flowers and, of course, exquisite cider. Old Hill offers five varietals including “Season’s Finish,” a dessert cider with a silky mouth feel and flavors of pineapple, cherries, and toast. Stop by the greenhouse while your there and bring home some mums and pansies. (17768 Honeyville Road, Timberville, Virginia)

VISITING HOURS
Monday – Saturday, 11am to 5pm
Website