Virginia’s Hard Cider Boom
In the next few weeks, you’ll most likely consume your fair share of holiday nogs and boozy punches. And amen to that. But if you find yourself craving something a little lighter this season, look to the hard ciders of Virginia. The wine-like drink of choice during the Colonial-era is now experiencing a comeback in the same spot where Thomas Jefferson hung his hat. Taking a cue from Foggy Ridge Cider, an early pioneer, a growing legion of Virginia cidermakers, the bulk of whom press fruit in the hills surrounding Charlottesville, are marrying centuries-old tradition with modern technology. “It’s been amazing to watch the number of Virginia artisan cidermakers triple in just a few years,” says John Rhett of Castle Hill Cider, which released its first batch of bottles in 2011.
The result of this burgeoning movement is a collection of celebration-worthy ciders that can charm the shell off an oyster, hold their own with game meats like venison, and even stand in for champagne during a New Year’s toast. While you can explore the hard cider region on your own—many cidermakers offer tastings and tours—we’ve compiled a virtual tour of five varieties to look out for this season.