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Albemarle Ciderworks
by
Kathy Sullivan

Albemarle CiderworksSummary: Albemarle Ciderworks is a small artisan, family-owned cidery that offers an intimate visit to taste four apple varietal ciders. Enjoy the pastoral countryside views from the windows or the patio. Albemarle Ciderworks is also the location of Vintage Virginia Apples.

Our visit to Albemarle Ciderworks was delightful and we discovered an enthusiasm for vintage apples and hard cider. The day was perfect with bright sunshine and views of flowering apple trees. Charlotte Shelton enthusiastically described the history of cider and their family’s involvement in the apple industry of Virginia. Today the Shelton family owns Albemarle Ciderworks and Vintage Virginia Apples.

While enjoying our visit with Charlotte, she noted that some people do not realize what cider is. Before Prohibition cider was alcoholic as it is today throughout the rest of the world. She adds that Albemarle Ciderworks is making fine cider that pairs elegantly with food.

Albemarle CiderworksThe Albemarle Ciderworks tasting room is small with plenty of light from the two walls of windows. Each of these walls has a door with one leading to the patio. Several tables are available inside and outside for slowly enjoying a glass of cider. The tasting room offers three different food plates to be purchased. The Ploughman’s Platter is a fresh hot baguette with Virginia ham and assorted cheese. Or one can purchase the Cheese/Bread Plate or the Albemarle Salad. Visitors are encouraged to bring picnic lunches with them.

While the tasting room emphasizes the Albemarle Ciderworks cider, there are some other items available for purchase. Merchandise includes several different books on cider. Different types of tools for pruning orchards are also available.

 

Albemarle CiderworksThe Cider

Commercial cider at Albemarle Ciderworks was produced in 2009 with a production of 860 cases. In 2010 the production was 2,000 cases and the Sheltons expect the quantity to increase. At Albemarle Ciderworks they concentrate on varietal apple cider. Several different ciders are produced.

The tasting began with the Royal Pippin with seven percent alcohol. This cider was a sparkling cider that was a straw color. The aroma and taste were very apple-like. The finish was crisp, dry and cleansing. This cider was produced from Albemarle Pippin apples. Royal Pippin is a food friendly and an anytime of the day beverage. Old Virginia Winesap was a clear yellow. The aroma was floral while the taste was of floral and crisp fruit. When paired with ham the apple flavor became predominant. The finish was crisp and there was a Winesap apple aftertaste. Ragged Mountain was a blend of apples. This cider offered apple notes on the aroma and taste with a crisp finish. These ciders would pair well with food.

Events at Albemarle Ciderworks

The cidery has an apple festival each year. Watch for the Apple Harvest Festival in November. They also participate in the annual Monticello's Heritage Harvest Festival in September. Beginning the summer of 2011 couples can schedule weddings and receptions at the facility.

Albemarle CiderworksVintage Virginia Apples Business

Vintage Virginia Apples began after the Sheltons purchased the farm property in 1986. When Mr. Shelton retired he planted the first apple orchard in the 1990’s and then the family began planting more apple orchards. Today the property has over 200 apple varieties many of which are vintage apples that are difficult to locate. Charlotte noted that while occasionally an old apple variety is discovered some varieties have died out.

Albemarle CiderworksTo maintain the farm and orchards, the Sheltons started the Vintage Virginia Apples business. Vintage Virginia Apples is located on the farm and offers seminars on apple orchards. Some of the seminars include “Planning and Planting the Home Orchard,” “Pruning Workshop,” “Grafting Workshop” and “CiderMaker’s Forum.”

Vintage Virginia Apples also grafts apple trees. Charlotte noted that “every apple seed produces a tree” however the tree produced will not be true. Therefore it is important that apple trees be grafted. The Sheltons graft thousands of apple trees. These are available through their online catalogue. Also available in the catalogue are various tools needed for growing and producing apples.

Enjoy visiting Albemarle Ciderworks and tasting the different ciders available. Experience a part of the American heritage in historic Virginia.

Albermarle Ciderworks
2545 Rural Ridge Lane
North Garden, VA 22959

GPS: N37º 58.011’ W78º 39.001’

 

 


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