Compared to other cider regions, Virginia has the most intimate community of cider makers. Throughout the year, they gather to share advice on everything from fruit and fermentation to marketing and legislation. Of course, from time to time, they also share a drink or two. And Virginia Cider Week is the 10-day culmination of these joint efforts to establish Virginia's place in the American cider landscape.
In the Old Dominion, heirloom apples such as Albemarle (Newtown) Pippins and Stayman Winesaps provide a tart, citrus character and low bitterness to most of the ciders. Also, Virginia's extended growing season produces high-sugar fruit, so the state's ciders can approach 10% alcohol. These factors—combined with long, slow fermentation in stainless steel tanks—have come together to give Virginia's ciders a distinct, recognizable style.
Lately, though, some of the state's cider makers have started to break away from the pack. They're beginning to show more individuality, personality, and confidence in their ciders. Furthermore, two new cideries—Winchester Ciderworks and Old Hill Cider—are providing an altogether unique take on Virginia cider.
We went down to Virginia to drink our way through as much local cider as we could. Head over to the slideshow for our report on Virginia Cider Week's highlights »
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