Yes, we’re big wine drinkers who have a passion for keeping it local. This has also led us to delve into the world of VA cider. There are only a handful of cideries in the state, but we’ve been impressed with what they have to offer and have been glad to add their offerings into our adult beverage rotation. During the Christmas holidays we got our first taste of the newest cidery: Potter’s Craft Cider. The owner/cider makers, Tim Edmond and Dan Potter, have chosen to take a different approach than the other cideries. First, they have no tasting room. Second, they have only a single cider (at least for the moment). Third, they sell the largest portion of their cider in kegs to be tapped at restaurants and retail outlets that fill growlers (such as the Whole Foods in Charlottesville).
This spring, Dan and Tim hosted an open house at their production facility and invited us to attend. Unfortunately, prior commitments kept us away, but we made plans with them for a visit on another day. Potter’s Craft Cider is housed in a former horse vet clinic on a working horse farm that they found through an ad on Craig’s List (what can’t you find there?). They moved there after they outgrew the space where they started out at Tuckahoe Plantation in Richmond. They started out pressing sweet cider to sell at farmer’s markets, and as home brewers, eventually tried fermenting it. They seem to be doing something right since the demand for their cider continues to grow, and I’m happy to report that they’re using VA fruit (the base is primarily winesap, pippin, and stayman), but it will differ from “vintage” to “vintage” (cider can’t be vintage labeled in VA).
As they filled us in on their history and plans for the future, they popped the cork on one of their bottles of their Farmhouse Dry cider. I’m used to ciders being closed with a crown cap (think beer), but they said that since they view their cider as a farmhouse style akin to Belgian beer, they felt that the cork closure made sense. I got a lot of great citrus notes, primarily lemon, with an apple finish. The tannins were softer than with some of the other ciders I’ve had from VA (what they described as a more estate, single varietal style), and I appreciated the acid structure. I just think this cider wants some food to help it show up to its true potential. Clearly I need to spend some more time talking with Diane Flynt from Foggy Ridge Cider as she totally rocks the food and cider pairings. Since the 750ml bottles are sold through retail outlets, price will vary a bit from store to store, but the average price seems to be $11, and they reported that this is pretty consistent from store to store.
In addition to this offering, be it in kegs or bottles, they’re also experimenting with aging some cider in old Laird apple brandy barrels. Apparently experimenting with bourbon barrels is the cool think to do in the home brew world, so they figured they see what happened with cider. They’ve currently got 4 barrels going, and we got to taste from each of them as Dan and Tim made their own notes about how things are progressing. It was interesting to see how different the ciders were coming out of each of the 4 barrels. They definitely had greater depth of flavor than the basic cider, but some were boozier, some offered more vanilla form the oak, and others offered more smoke. On barrel, #3 to be exact, struck me as the wine drinkers barrel as it drank like an unfinished chardonnay with some floral, vanilla, and apple notes. Clearly the results of this experiment will be a limited release, but they haven’t decided yet if it will be through kegs, bottles, or small bottles. I’ll be watching for future release info, however, as I hope to get a taste of the finished project.
Finally, we learned that the information sharing and collaboration among VA cider folks is continuing. They’re working to organize a VA cider association as an arm of one of the state’s wine organization. There will also be a VA Cider Week in November. Clearly, as a blog, we’ll be doing something for that, but what would you like to see as part of this week? Chime in through comments; they’re looking for ideas. So, have you tried Potter’s Craft Cider yet? No? Well get your butt to Cville and get your hands on some!
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