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
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) »
Cidrbox.com connects people seeking orchard-driven cider with the artisans who make it. Each month we visit a single, distinctive American heritage orchard — where small producers grow, harvest, press, ferment and refine their cider — and we share their cider with our subscribers. We also sit down for a cidertasting with the maker, which we share with you here at cidersessions.com.
p.s. When we say cider, we mean hard cider: Artful fermentations of heirloom apples by master cidermakers. You must be at least 21 to drink what we deliver, and you will be asked for your ID and signature at the door.