Three Cideries in Virginia You Must Visit
I’ll confess: I am a huge fan of hard cider. While some people prefer beer and others prefer wine, cider is honestly my favorite alcoholic beverage. So: in honor of Fall & the fact that it’s the start of Virginia Cider Week, I thought I would round up three of my favorite Virginia cideries. In case you are wondering: I have not been sponsored by anyone to create this post. I just really, truly love cider - particularly Virginia cider.
Quick Facts About Hard Cider in Virginia:
By acreage, Virginia is the 6th largest apple-producing state.
Apples have been grown & harvested in Virginia since the first settlers arrived in Jamestown in 1607.
Founding Father & Charlottesville Resident Thomas Jefferson enjoyed drinking hard cider with dinner.
1. Big Fish Cider - Monterey
Big Fish Cider is probably Virginia’s most remote cidery, but don’t let that stop you from making a visit. Located in the stunning narrow valley town of Monterey in Highland County, Big Fish features a variety of ciders ranging from crisp to smoky to sweet.
Ciders to Get at Big Fish:
+ If you like semi-dry classic, apple-y ciders: Get the Highland Scrumpy cider. This cider is made of over 20 different varieties of local apple. This means the flavor will actually change from year to year depending on which apples Big Fish gets from local orchards. Pretty neat, huh?
+ If you like sweet ciders infused with fruit, you cannot go home without a bottle of the Church Hill Blush cider. This cider features the flavor of local raspberries and is my personal favorite. It’s refreshing, sweet (without being too sweet), and delightfully rose colored.
+ If you like unusual ciders: you’ve got to try a taste of Big Fish’s Monterey Maple cider. This is an off-dry cider that has been fermented with famous Highland County maple syrup and then aged in oak barrels. Rather than being super sweet (as you might imagine a maple cider to be), the maple syrup actually lends the drink a smoky finish.
+ If you like strong, sweet dessert cider: try their Fireside Cider. This cider features caramelized apples from a local sugar camp that have been slow-fermented. It’s perfect for having just one glass on a cold night out in Highland County.
2. Courthouse Creek Cider - Maidens & Richmond
Courthouse Creek’s main location is in Maidens, just west of Richmond near Goochland. I actually haven’t made it out to Maidens yet but I have been to the new Courthouse Creek tasting room in Scott’s Addition, Richmond’s craft brew-centric neighborhood. I tried five of Courthouse Creek’s ciders in a flight and I was genuinely blown away by the uniqueness of their flavors. Since I’m based in Richmond, I’m really pleased to have found a cool new hang in their bright purple tasting room. I can’t wait to bring all of my friends.
Ciders to Get at Courthouse Creek:
+ If you like classic, apple-y ciders: Get the Black Twig cider from Courthouse Creek. Black Twig apples are an heirloom variety of apple that were typically classified as “dessert apples.” This is one of the most refreshing apple ciders I’ve tried in Virginia.
+ If you like sweet, fruit-infused ciders: You can’t go wrong with the Blackberry Lavender cider. The cider initially hits the palate with the apple and blackberry flavors, then finishes with a pleasant hint of lavender. This would be a fantastic summertime cider.
+ If you like unusual ciders: Please don’t leave without trying the Samurai Sour cider. This is a cider with a serious sour kick. Made like a gose-style beer, Samurai Sour tastes like a combination of sipping vinegar and cider - in the best way.
3. Albemarle Ciderworks - North Garden
The tasting room at Albemarle Ciderworks is situated just south of Charlottesville in North Garden on Route 29. Albemarle Ciderworks is owned by the Vintage Virginia Apples orchard. Vintage Virginia Apples cultivates over 200 different kinds of obscure heirloom apples, some of which they sell through their nursery and catalog. Albemarle Ciderworks is the perfect place to go taste some truly classic Virginia ciders, made with some of the oldest apple cultivars in the state.
Ciders to Get at Albemarle Ciderworks:
+ For non-drinkers: I love hard cider (obviously) but there’s also something super special and very Autumnal about drinking fresh, non-alcoholic apple cider. At Albemarle Ciderworks, you can buy gallon jugs of their non-fermented, unprocessed apple cider and it is worth. every. penny. Don’t even try to compare it to any store-bought cider, this cider (see photo below) is light-years better than any of those.
+ If you like a classic cider that makes you feel like royalty: try the luscious Royal Pippin cider. The Royal Pippin is so named because it was made with Albemarle Pippin apples - which just so happened to be a favorite of Queen Victoria.
+ If you like tart, aromatic blended ciders: get some of their Red Hill cider. This is my personal favorite. A bottle of Red Hill cider pairs perfectly with a soft cheese and bread. Luckily for all of us, Albemarle Ciderworks’ tasting room has a nice selection of yummy cheese, bread, and other local snacks.
+ If you like cider but sorta wish you were having champagne: sample the Brut D’Albemarle cider. This cider is dry, bubbly, and the perfect way to celebrate the end of a long week.