Family is the mortar that holds the business together here at Rural Ridge. Vintage Virginia Apples and Albemarle Ciderworks grew out of the close ties and hard work ethic of the Shelton family, and has since grown to encompass a talented team of "adopted family" over the years, who help with everything from educating visitors about our ciders in the tasting room to grafting trees and assisting in the cidermaking.
Chuck is the family scientist and is a major player behind the success of Albemarle CiderWorks today. His interest in cider craft inspired our creation of Albemarle CiderWorks, and his dedication to showcasing the heirloom varietals grown here at Rural Ridge Orchard is the vision that defines our ciders . He holds degrees in Environmental Science and Zoology from the University of Virginia and North Carolina State.
In Carolina he met and married Margaret Elizabeth Goodman whose family has deep roots in coastal North Carolina where they raised their three sons. He retired from a career with Carolina Power and Light in 2005 in order to spend more time with family, particularly his aging parents at Rural Ridge.
Charlotte has worn many hats over the years, often simultaneously, and acting as the CEO of Vintage Virginia Apples hasn't changed any of that. The first born of the Shelton siblings, Charlotte has career backgrounds in both academics (history) and the finance industry, and both serve her well in her latest endeavor here. As any visitor to the Albemarle CiderWorks tasting room will discover, cider enjoys a rich history with deep roots in both Europe and America, and it is Charlotte's special pleasure to educate our patrons about that history. Additionally, Charlotte is the force behind planning and organizing workshops and special events, and exploring new avenues to enhance the production and enjoyment of our ciders. As an avid cook, she is also the palate behind many of the suggested food pairings accompanying our cider tasting notes- check them out, she won't steer you wrong!
Bill is the third child born to the Shelton family, and he is the brains behind the organization and upkeep of the nursery part of the business at Vintage Virginia Apples. While holding down a day job with the Commonwealth's housing and community development department, Bill somehow finds time each weekend to come out to the farm and organize the cider pressings, dig tree orders, lay out the grafting plan for the year, collect scion wood, and generally keep things running smoothly. Bill’s career has focused on helping communities across the state to capitalize on traditional assets including value added agriculture and views his farm activities as a perfect extension of his core values of family, heritage and community.
Anne Shelton, the daughter of Bill Shelton, came on board as Tasting Room Manager in 2010. Since then, she has become more involved in the operations of the cidery. She contributes to the marketing, bookkeeping, tasting room, and general operations of the business. One of her biggest roles at the cidery is the coordination of the Vintage Virginia Apples Harvest Festival every year. She is involved in the Virginia Association of Cider Makers and their mission to educate consumers about Virginia Cider. In her spare time, she enjoys photography and working with local community theaters.
Rick Hood has been with Albemarle CiderWorks for going on 3 years now. He's always quick with a quip, a joke, or a song lyric to accompany the conversation, and counts among his other talents the ability to sell and deliver cider with a smile. The availability of Albemarle CiderWorks' cider has increased exponentially during the last 3 years, for which the fine cider-drinking folk of VA, DC, and MD have Rick to thank. And for those of you not currently covered by that distribution radius- give Rick a call!
Thomas was born and raised in Charlottesville, but moved through the Midwest and New England before returning to the area in 2011 with high hopes of trying to understand our modern food system. Thomas landed on the Sheltons' doorstep in 2012 while working for a local non-profit food distributor and began by bottling cider and grafting apple trees the wrong way (on an old omega grafter) a few days a week. That arrangement grew to fill the week and today Thomas helps to dig and ship trees in the nursery, keeps his hands in most of the cider making process, and can be found at the occasional wine festival or workshop.
As a future farmer, Jennifer originally came to Albemarle Ciderworks with an eye towards learning how to grow tree fruit at a small farm scale. Then she tasted the cider and decided she had better learn more about that, too! Initially employed as a Tasting Room Associate, and then as Tasting Room Manager, Jennifer's role has grown to help with producing the product she loves. While her main roles now include pressing, fermenting and bottling, she still manages to get out in the orchard to help with pruning and grafting. Besides sampling the wares, Jennifer's favorite part of the job is introducing visitors to the world of craft cider, and all of the flavor and history it has to offer.
Tom Burford is the scion of an old Virginia family who were orchardists for generations in Amherst County and is a connection of the Sheltons who also hail from Amherst. His Burford Brothers Nursery was the source of the first trees the Sheltons planted at their Rural Ridge Farm in Albemarle County. His work has been the inspiration for Rural Ridge Orchard and Vintage Virginia Apples. Both he and the Sheltons see Albemarle CiderWorks as a logical extension of their interest in vintage apples. His Apples: A Catalog of International Varieties has been the motivating force informing numerous small orchards across the country. His Apples of North America: Exceptional Varieties for Growers, Gardeners and Cooks, published by Timber Press, won the 2014 American Horticulture Society Book Award. He consults with many historic properties and individual property owners nationwide and occasionally internationally. His expertise and enthusiasm has earned him the soubriquet "Professor Apple." He teaches classes and workshops on grafting, apple tastings,pruning, and a wide variety of other related subjects. Vintage Virginia Apples is proud to call him our own.