In Anticipation of Virginia Cider Week
Said to be the next frontier in artisanal brews, hard cider is making a big comeback. In fact, according to Rachel Nania's “Hard Cider Orchards: Virginia's other wine country”, published by WTOP "Cider is the fastest-growing segment in the alcohol industry right now. The category grew over 60 percent last year".
But this isn’t just a fad, cider has a long history in the US. The story goes that in colonial America, fermented cider was the drink of choice. John Adams attributed his health and long life to a tankard of cider before breakfast. 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. Many factors contributed to the decline of cider in the US—the Industrial Revolution caused a decline in farms; immigration patterns changed and more beer drinkers arrived; Prohibition dealt the last blow and most cider orchards declined or were destroyed. But the trend is reversing, and no more so than in our area.
The reason? The Virginia climate just happens to be perfect for apple growing and orchards are abundant statewide. Many Virginia cidermakers aim to revive the cider tradition by growing, or encouraging others to grow cider apples, and by crafting fine cider.
For the second year, Virginia will celebrate this revival with Virginia Cider Week November 15 – 24. Numerous events, including cider and cheese pairings, workshops, dinners and signature tastings will take place at various locations. To learn more about Virginia Cider Week visit www.ciderweekva.com.
Homegrown Options in Maryland and Virginia
Charlotte Shelton and her family opened the cidery south of Charlottesville in 2009, after spending the previous decade growing more than 200 types of apple and other fruit trees. You can taste many of Albemarle’s seven ciders in its tasting room, open Wednesdays through Sundays, or pick up bottles at select retailers across Virginia and in DC. Shelton notes that her flagship bottle, Jupiter’s Legacy, pairs perfectly with pork. Production is 3,000 cases per year.
Albemarle Ciderworks: 2550 Rural Ridge Ln. North Garden, VA; 434-297-2326; www.albemarleciderworks.com