Cider Week 2018

9 Nov

November 9-18, 2018

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From colonial times until the early 20th century it was common for almost every homestead to have an orchard, with apples as the primary crop. While owners may have munched them, their essential purpose was for cider. The popularity of cider is not a new trend; its roots go deeper than almost any other alcoholic drink. In the 1600s, Virginia’s early settlers brought their cider-making traditions with them from England. Cider met their immediate needs. It was cheap and easy to produce; once established, apple trees were fairly easy to grow; and it was much safer than drinking water from rivers, streams, or shallow wells.

Although the cider during the 1700s contained about 6 percent alcohol, it would not have been unusual for the founding fathers to have downed a tankard for breakfast. When William Henry Harrison ran for president in 1840, cider had so many pleasant associations with people’s lives that he made it part of his campaign, passing it out at his political rallies. When yesteryear’s youth began abandoning farm life in the late 1800s, cider’s popularity also waned, until by the 1920s, helped along by the Temperance movement and Prohibition, it had all but disappeared. While cider is seeing a revival today, the amount produced does not come close to the amount produced in the late 1800s before it began its decline.

Virginia is the sixth-largest apple producing state by acreage in the United States and cider is a rich part of the Commonwealth’s heritage, so it seems only natural that cider would make a comeback. Today’s cider producers—there are more than 20 cideries across the Commonwealth–make a variety of different styles, ranging from dry to sweet, still to sparkling, simple to complex. Goochland’s own Courthouse Creek Cider (1581 Maidens Road, http://www.courthousecreek.com) grows heirloom American, English, and French cider apple trees and with minimum intervention, produces a variety of ciders, ranging from Rustico and Black Twig to Blackberry Lavender and Honest Farmer. You might want to celebrate Virginia Cider Week with a visit to Courthouse Creek Cider and lift your glass to celebrate cider’s rich history and our cider-drinking forefathers.

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