Virginia Hard Cider
Fruit orchards and cider making are deep and long-standing traditions in Virginia's Blue Ridge and Alleghany Mountains. In colonial America, fermented cider was the drink of choice. Thomas Jefferson’s champagne-like cider, made with Hewe’s Crabapples, was his “table drink”. Throughout the 19th century, growing apples and crafting cider from cider apples was an integral part of every community.
Today, the tradition is being kept alive by these nearby cideries. Visit them individually or plan to attend an event during Cider Week VA in the late fall:
Castle Hill Cider (15 miles): Originally built in 1764, Castle Hill was the home of Colonel Thomas Walker, guardian and mentor to Thomas Jefferson. Today, Castle Hill reclaims its glory as a cidery. Using organic apples grown on their orchard, they employ two techniques to produce their cider: the tried and true method using apple presses and fermentation in tanks; and the extreme craft method that is 7000 years old using “planted” terra cotta vessels called kvevri in the earth. A gorgeous site and a unique drink make this a wonderful stop.
Potter's Craft Cider (35 miles): Located in the heart of apple country at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, all their ciders start with locally-grown fruit from nearby orchards and family farms. Post-pressing, the fresh juice is fermented at cold temperatures for full developement of unique flavors and aromas. No sugar or water is added, and they are not afraid to push boundaries to make ciders that stand out.
Albemarle Ciderworks (40 miles): Grown from their love of heirloom and rare varieties of apples no longer satisfying today's commerical distribution systems, the folks at Albemarle Ciderworks wanted to find a way to develop a product to keep those varietals growing. And they have! Now their orchards are filled with more than 200 different cultivars, 3 dozen peach varieties, as well as several plums, cherries, nectarines, apricots, and most recently, pears. Taste the "fruits" of their labor at their tasting room!
Bold Rock Hard Cider (60 miles): Bold Rock hard cider is the brainchild of native Virginian John Washburn and Kiwi native Brian Shanks. Using local apples to produce a suite of hard cider products, this incredibly fast-growing company does not scrimp on the quality or the tasting room experience. The new tasting room is a huge gorgeous structure of reclaimed wood and large windows. If you love hard cider - this is a MUST visit.