A  cider session with Foggy Ridge Cider of Virginia

 

Diane Flynt planted her American heritage apple orchard in 1997 with an eye to producing fine cider with the same careful attention to slow fermentation and artful blending that a winemaker attends to when making wine. 

Like a winemaker, she started with the place where the fruit is grown. Foggy Ridge is sited at 3000 feet in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains where, in Flynt's words: “Steep hillsides drain frost; quartz rocks lighten loamy clay soil. Cool nights and warm days … result in crisp acidity and ripe sugars.” 

Then she planted the right fruit in this hospitable soil: “I wanted to grow the very best ingredients for cider, which meant apple varieties that offer two qualities that don’t work so well in a pie or in your mouth—tannin and acid. The best cider apples are bitter, full of bracing acidity and not for sissies. Tremlett’s Bitter, Dabinett, Harrison and Hewe's Crab contribute tannin; Ashmead’s Kernel adds sharp acids. Highly flavored apples like Pitmaston Pineapple and Cox’s Orange Pippin offer layers of spice and floral notes.”

We don’t want a place to hide in our beverages. I don’t want to hide the flavor of my apples behind anything. So we don’t use oak, we don’t add flavoring, we don’t add hops or assertive yeasts. I want the fruit to speak for itself.

—Foggy Ridge Cider Maker Diane Flynt

 

Flynt has nurtured and restored a rich diversity of apple varieties across her three Virginia orchards—some of which have never been grown in the south and others which haven't been seen in the region since Jefferson maintained his orchard at Monticello. Apple varieties include (but are not limited to):

• American heirloom Harrison, Graniwinkle, Hewe's Crab and Roxbury Russett, prized by early colonists for the fine cider they made 

• The Muscadet de Berney, a tannic “spitter” which lives up to the old cidermaker’s adage: Take a bite: The farther you spit it, the better the cider

• The Pomme Gris, which looks like a potato and tastes of ginger

• The highly tannic Foxwelp

• The classic English Kingston Black cider apple

• The lively acidic Ribston Pippin  

Diane was a kind and generous host when we visited in February for a cider session and tasting of her Foggy Ridge Cider. You can play the tasting notes for each cider below, or visit SoundCloud for the whole tasting at one throw »

 
Foggy Ridge Serious Cider 750ml • 7% alcohol by volume Rated No.1 in a New York Times panel tasting of American dry ciders Contains traditional English cider apples Tremlett’s Bitter and Dabinett, and American aromatic heirlooms Grimes Golden and Newtown Pippin Rich apple and citrus aroma Bright, dry and lively Creamy mid-palate Full-bodied, soft minerality Focused acidity Textured, dusty tannin Long, pleasant, dry finish Pairs well with rich, high-fat foods and creamy cheeses

Pair Foggy Ridge Serious Cider with classic Baltimore-style crab cakes or keep it veggie with a shallot tarte tatin with goat's cheese » 

The Foggy Ridge orchards were planted with cider in mind, and boast an abundance of true cider apple fruit and heirloom varieties

The Foggy Ridge orchards were planted with cider in mind, and boast an abundance of true cider apple fruit and heirloom varieties

A small creek runs under the ridge road that connects the Foggy Ridge Tasting Room to the cider apple orchards. No cell signals here: The perfect place to slip away and unplug and sip stunning cider. Foggy Ridge even has a small cabin to let for weekend retreats »

A small creek runs under the ridge road that connects the Foggy Ridge Tasting Room to the cider apple orchards. No cell signals here: The perfect place to slip away and unplug and sip stunning cider. Foggy Ridge even has a small cabin to let for weekend retreats »

Foggy Ridge Cider Founder, Maker, and Orchardist Diane Flynt

Foggy Ridge Cider Founder, Maker, and Orchardist Diane Flynt

Foggy Ridge First Fruit Cider • 750ml • 7% alcohol by volume • Historically prized blend of early season Virginia Hewe's Crab, Parmar, Graniwinkle and Harrison • Tart apple aroma with notes of tropical fruit and lemon curd • Lively, crisp acidity • Apple and pear flavors • Lingering strawberry notes • Clean apple finish • Pairs well with assertively flavored foods like sharp cheese and grilled or smoked meats

Try Foggy Ridge First Fruit alongside these pork and ricotta meatballs, this simple citrus-dressed salad of celery-root, fennel and parsley, or (if you can find it): Meadow Creek Dairy's Grayson cheese » 

Foggy Ridge Stayman Winesap • 750ml • 7% alcohol by volume • Off-dry in the style of a semi-dry Riesling • Classic Stayman cider apples blended with heirloom Winesap, Grimes Golden and Cox’s Orange Pippin • Intense, spicy, rich apple aroma • Touch of caramel and ripe cherry • Complex, fine-grained tannin • Balanced acidity • Lingering finish of apple and berry • Pairs well with BBQ, aged gouda, and brick-oven pizza

Pair Foggy Ridge Stayman Winesap with whole-hog BBQ (accept no substitutes) »

Lily the orchard cat

Lily the orchard cat

The Foggy Ridge Cider Tasting Room

The Foggy Ridge Cider Tasting Room

Snow in the orchard, lichen on the limb

Snow in the orchard, lichen on the limb