Virginia’s Hard Cider Boom

by Natalie Russell - Virginia

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.

>Click here for our Virginia cider round up.