There is perhaps no fruit as closely associated with the American landscape as the apple. Historical records indicate that it was "one of the first crops introduced to American shores by colonists from England and western Europe" (Ben Watson,"Cider Hard and Sweet", 1st ed), and by the end of the nineteenth century, over 1000 different distinctly American apple cultivars were being grown.
Each Apple Has a Purpose
The principal purpose for the importance and ubiquity of apples was to produce cider. Many varieties were grown for, and tasted best in, a specific application. There were apples grown for culinary and dessert dishes, for drying, for apple butter, for animal fodder, and of course for cider and juice. These are the apples that today are considered "heirloom," many of which have already disappeared from our modern apple lexicon, and from the pool of genetic diversity. It was with an eye toward preserving what is left of that diversity that Vintage Virginia Apples began selecting trees for the orchard at Rural Ridge, and today that orchard holds more than 200 different apple cultivars.
Many of these are wonderfully suited to being pressed and fermented into our ciders, while others are sold for cooking and fresh eating. We graft and bud a number of these distinctive varieties each year and offer them for sale in our online catalog. We encourage others to join our efforts and to that end, also offer classes and workshops teaching the skills necessary to grow these treasures.