Apple cider has come a long way since its days as the drink of choice in Colonial America, when the fermented beverage was often safer to drink than plain water. Recent years have seen an increased interest in cultivating and preserving local and heirloom fruits, which has led to a boom in the popularity and quality of hard cider. Here are seven Southern stops that prove it.
With tasting rooms in Virginia and North Carolina, Bold Rock is a Blue Ridge Mountain favorite. Its flagship location in the town of Nellysford welcomes guests to its timber-frame Cider Barn—affectionately dubbed the Chapel of Apple—overlooking the Rockfish River. Besides cider tastings, seltzers, cocktails, and food are on offer.
Charleston, South Carolina
This petite gem in North Charleston brings a taste of the Blue Ridge to the Lowcountry. The standout selection includes crisp, Prosecco-like classics as well as seasonal specials in flavors like guava-chipotle and berry-lemongrass.
Bryant’s Dry Cider
Bryant’s rural Virginia tasting room is housed in a rustic, 120-year-old sheep barn in the middle of an orchard. If that isn’t idyllic enough, the cidery also brews its own beer, hosts food trucks and live music events, and invites guests to picnic on the property, dogs in tow.
Aptly named Urban Treen makes its home in the heart of Atlanta, but its apples originate on a century-old, family-owned orchard in North Georgia. There, they are picked and pressed before the juice is transported to Urban Tree to be fermented, carbonated, and bottled. The result is true farm-to-city cider.
Mt. Defiance Cidery
Located in horse-mad Middleburg, Mt. Defiance is as autumnal as they come. Its spacious tasting room, perched on a sloping hill just outside of town, is a scenic spot for a picnic with friends; pair the classic cider with takeout pizza from Knead Wine just down the street. The cidery’s Apple Brandy makes for a luxurious after-dinner drink.
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville might be known as Beer City, but don’t ignore its cider scene, which has steadily blossomed in recent years. With two tasting locations in town, Noble Cider is worth a stop. The extensive offerings include strawberry-basil, clementine, and black-currant ciders as well as mead.
North Garden, Virginia
The apple experts at this family-run operation cultivate more than 250 varieties of the fruit, many from vintage trees that are increasingly rare in the United States. The result is a slate of fifteen heirloom ciders you won’t find anywhere else.