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Craft cider celebrated during specially designated week

TIMBERVILLE—Four years ago, Virginia became the first state to create a specially designated week to celebrate hard cider. This year’s Virginia Cider Week is Nov. 11-20 and includes special tastings, pairings, dinners, events and workshops at cideries across the state.

Old Hill Cider in Rockingham County is one of those businesses. The Showalter family, which operates the cidery, has been growing apples for more than 50 years in a century-old orchard. Old Hill Cider is the Shenandoah Valley’s first hard cidery.

The Showalters’ decision to start a hard cidery in 2011 “was born from the perfect storm of working with something we love and our passion about food, beverages and our farm,” explained Sarah Showalter, co-owner of the cidery and a Rockingham County Farm Bureau member. She said it also was a decision made to keep the family’s small orchard “viable and relevant.”

Hard cider is fermented apple juice. In Colonial America, fermented cider was a popular drink, according to ciderweekva.com. Throughout the 19th century, growing apples and crafting cider was an integral part of every community, the site notes. Many Virginia cidermakers—like the Showalters—aim to revive that tradition by growing cider apples.

Showalter said Virginia’s soils produce quality apples and, just like fine wines, “fine ciders start in the orchard with carefully grown, harvested and selected apples.” She added that the process of producing hard ciders is similar to that of creating wines.

And, like Virginia breweries and wineries, the state’s cideries continue to grow in popularity. Showalter said they’ve experienced the growth firsthand. “Our production is triple what we anticipated it would be at this time,” she said. “Our business plan for Old Hill Cider was obsolete when the ink dried … maybe before.”

In addition to Old Hill, 17 other hard cider makers are participating in this year’s Virginia Cider Week: Albemarle CiderWorks, Castle Hill Cider and Potter’s Craft Cider in Albemarle County; Foggy Ridge Cider in Carroll County; Cobbler Mountain Cellars in Fauquier County; Chateau Morrisette in Floyd County; Courthouse Creek Cider in Goochland County; Big Fish Cider Co. in Highland County; Corcoran Vineyards and Cidery, Mt. Defiance Cidery & Distillery and Wild Hare Hard Cider in Loudoun County; Blue Toad Hard Cider and Bold Rock Hard Cider in Nelson County; Blue Bee Cider and Buskey Cider in Richmond; The Winery at Kindred Pointe in Shenandoah County; and Winchester Ciderworks. For more information, visit ciderweekva.com.

Media: Contact Showalter at 650-246-6545.

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