Cider Series: Foggy Ridge Cider

Posted on December 9, 2013 by

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The Hard Cider Revival is alive and well!

From a record year for the 2nd annual Cider Week VA to growing sales across the nation, this adult beverage bridges the gap between the craft beer lovers and wine sippers. Bubbly, crisp, hand-crafted, and gaining some impressive national recognition, no wonder Virginian’s are flocking to local cideries!

Our Cider Series will showcase the best of Cville’s cideries staking their claim in the adult beverage industry. After all, Tis the Season for rich meals, sweet treats, fireside sips, and gift giving, and what better to pair it all with than a great local craft cider.

We start off our series a little further from home with Foggy Ridge Cider, located in Dugspur, Virginia, south of Blacksburg in deep southwest Virginia. Though not a local cidery by location, Diane Flynt has made sure Foggy Ridge can be enjoyed all over Virginia. Pick up a bottle of Foggy Ridge at Beer Run, Feast!, Market Street Wine Shop, or Whole Foods, just to name a few.

Diane Flynt of Foggy Ridge Cider

Foggy Ridge Cider House

Credit: Don Johnson, Floyd VA

Give us a brief history of your cidery.

We began Foggy Ridge with an orchard, in our case a cider orchard we planted in 1997—we were the first farm winery in the south to focus full time on growing heirloom cider apples and making artisan hard cider. Our first harvest year was 2004, and we sold cider in 2005.

At Foggy Ridge Cider, our focus is on cider fruit and well crafted cider, full stop. Our small tasting room is open weekends for nine months a year, but, as we like to say, “we sell no scented candles and no t shirts.” We’re always experimenting in the orchard with apple varieties that have the tannin levels to carry a dry cider. And increasingly we are working with VA orchardists to encourage them to plant cider fruit.

When and why did you decide to found a cidery in VA? What about Cville and the surrounding area makes it ideal for cidermakers?

Our orchards are at 3000 feet elevation in what is traditional apple territory. Here in the southern Appalachians we have less disease and insect pressure than in the Shenandoah Valley or in central VA, and we are able to grow several English cider apples that suffer in warmer and more humid parts of the state. Fruit, both apples and grapes, likes a big diurnal swing, that is, a difference between day time highs and night time lows. Our summers offer a greater diurnal swing than the lower elevations, making this an ideal place for fruit growing.

Describe your cider in 10 words or less.

Crisp and refreshing. Complex, layered flavors from blending many ferments.

Blending is our game at Foggy Ridge, which we think results in a more complex interesting cider than simply fermenting a single varietal or “field blend” in one ferment and bottling this.

Credit: Foggy Ridge

How would you describe the hard cider revival.

Cider is the fastest growing segment of the alcohol industry, nationally over 60%. Most of this growth is from Macro Cider, or Factory Cider—the highly commercial ciders made from chaptalized juice diluted with water, or from concentrate. Most Factory Cider producers are owned by large beer companies, and this cider tends to be packaged and marketed like beer. These ciders are to artisan cider, as Miller Lite is to a local craft beer. Artisan cider, which most people define as cider made from real apples, fermented without chaptalzing, is growing rapidly also and this is the exciting part of the cider revival.

Artisan cider is made like wine —from carefully grown and harvested fruit, fermented slowly and with care, and bottled without added flavors. And artisan cider is where you’ll find interesting authentic flavors.

Credit: Foggy Ridge

Chuck and Diane Flynt

Have you seen CiderWeekVA grow, and the overall following of local cidermakers?

This is the second year for CiderWeekVA and we’ve seen significant growth in the number of events, and in the number of restaurants and shops that want to be involved. Retailers and restaurants are excited by the buzz about cider each fall, but we also want to shout out that cider is great to drink all year!

What is your most popular cider? Why?

Foggy Ridge First Fruit is our best selling cider, but only by a small margin. First Fruit is crisp and tart, with a lovely apple aroma. Foggy Ridge Sweet Stayman was our best selling cider during CiderWeekVA, perhaps because it’s a bit more fruity, somewhat like a dry Riesling. And Foggy Ridge Serious Cider was recently reviewed in the NY Times and chosen as the top pick of dry ciders. This is my personal favorite cider, dry and somewhat austere, with an elegant finish.

Suggest one of your ciders for the holiday season ahead. What makes it perfect for the holidays?

Foggy Ridge First Fruit is an ideal foil for the complex flavors found on holiday tables. The bracing acidity helps balance all those sticks of butter that find their way into holiday dishes, and the fresh apple taste compliments gravy laden turkey, pork and braised meats.

Share a recipe or favorite dish to pair with one of your ciders.

One of my favorite cider pairings is cheese. Cider loves cheese in all its forms, from a stinky washed rind cheese (try First Fruit) to blue cheese paired with Foggy Ridge Pippin Gold apple port. I also like a winter salad this time of year with sharp greens (like arugula which we still have in our garden), roasted butternut squash, dried cranberries and a soft bloomy rind cheese. The rich flavors, light sweetness from the cranberries and vegetable fats (cheese, olive oil) of this dish pair well with Foggy Ridge Serious Cider.

Check out more recipes on the Foggy Ridge website »

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