In fact, hard cider is becoming so popular in Virginia that this November the Commonwealth will dedicate an entire week to it. Gather your friends and family and prepare to be blown away as you enjoy cider dinners, pairings and mixology throughout the state during the first-ever Virginia Cider Week, November 9-17.
According to an article in the September issue of Breathe Magazine, cideries are emerging throughout the Southeast and Virginia is producing many unique and tasteful ciders. In fact, Virginia ranked #4 on the top 10 list for cider case sales in 2011 by Southeast States, with a total of 91,266 cases sold.
If you want a taste Virginia hard cider for yourself, check out the following Virginia cideries:
- The Shelton family runs Vintage Virginia, an apple tree nursery, and ferments their own hard cider at Albemarle CiderWorks, just south of Charlottesville, Virginia, the family business started as an orchard in 2000, and their cider business launched in the summer of 2009.
- After apprenticing under Chuck Shelton, the cidermaker at Albemarle CiderWorks, Courtney Mailey decided to open her own urban cider company in Richmond. Slated to start crushing apples this month, Mailey then hopes to sell Blue Bee Cider in Spring 2013.
- After living in New Zealand for the past decade, John Washburn moved back to his property in Nellysford with the wild idea to start a cider company. He came back with a big dream and cider partner Brian Shanks, a New Zealander who is well-versed in cider production and has helped launch cideries around the world.
- Bold Rock Hard Cider started serving cider back in May and now distributes cider from Galax to Leesburg to Virginia Beach.
- A historic barn used to auction cattle now is the home of Castle Hill’s cider fermenting facility, tasting room and events space. Castle Hill Cider started serving cider in their tasting room in Keswick Virginia back in July 2011 and they now have five ciders – one still and four sparkling.
- Twenty-five minutes outside of Floyd, Virginia, Foggy Ridge Cider has been growing apples specifically for cider production since 1998 and has been selling hard cider since 2006. They grow varieties such as Harrison, Hewe’s Crabapple, Roxbury Russets and Ashmead’s Kernel.
- Old Hill Cider has a blend of apples heavily based on Albemarle Pippin, Stayman and Winesaps. Shannon Showalter’s orchard, which has been in his family since the mid-60s, is just 30 minutes north of Harrisonburg, Va. The 40-acre orchard produces 26 varieties. The farm boasts more than just cider – pick-your-own apples and sweet cider, as well as apple cider donuts.
- Not too far outside of Charlottesville you can find old college buddies Tim Edmund and Dan Potter, of Potter’s Craft Cider, bottling their Farmhouse Dry cider in their two-room production facility, an old horse veterinary clinic that they renovated to accommodate their booming cider business. These homebrewers turned their hobby into a viable business venture in fall 2010, and since their cider has been picked up on keg and in bottles by bars, restaurants and groceries throughout Central Virginia.
Want more info on Virginia Cider Week? Visit www.ciderweekva.com.