When I first moved to the United States, the only cider that was “widely” available was Vermont-based Woodchuck or Boston’s Angry Orchard, fruity beverages that dominated the American cider scene back then. In recent years though, the refreshing and light apple-based drink has exploded here. As craft beer became increasingly popular, cider’s appeal also rose, particularly as an alternative to beer for those who can’t drink (especially those who are gluten intolerant) or those who just don’t like the taste of it. Fast forward to 2016, and cider is definitely having a moment in America! And that includes in the state of Virginia, of course (I mean, Jefferson grew apples at Monticello and produce cider after all). So when my friend Calla suggested we venture out to some wineries during the MLK long weekend, I brought up the possibility of us checking out a cidery too and before I knew it our little day trip had a cider theme!
Virginia cideries are clustered around Charlottesville and in the Shenandoah Valley, which is a little far from Washington, DC if you’re just going for a day trip. So instead, we opted to check out two tasting rooms in Loudoun County, tucked in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Starting with the newest and furthest away from the city, we found ourselves in the tiny, very definitely MICRO Wild Hare Cidery (open Saturdays and Sundays from 12-5PM) in Bluemont, VA. Wild Hare is one of the area’s newest cidery producer and the tasting room is intimate at best, with no seating, but the tasting was free and the people were very friendly.
Also, the cider was good. Dry and hoppy Hatch was my favourite, reminding me the most of your typical Brittany cider (the fact that they described it as the champagne of cider didn’t hurt either I’m sure….)
Next, we headed to Corcoran Cidery, a small family owned winery and cidery situated on a family farm in Waterford, VA. Since it was the the first cidery to open in Loudoun County we basically went from the newest one to the oldest one 😉
They also do beer, but that’s not on the same site. The good news is if you have a mixed group of wine and/or cider lovers you can sample either wine or cider or a mix of both at the tasting room there. We all opted for the $7 cider tasting flight, and tried all 4 ciders they have to offer.
On warmer days, the owners also fire up the BBQ but it was a bit too cold and snowy when we were there so we got a bit hungry after the tastings and headed to Purcellville for some burgers at Market Burgers Fries and Shakes. Since you really can’t go to Purcellville without stopping to sample some cocktails at Catoctin Creek Distillery, we did just that too! Before the hour and a half drive back to the District, we stopped for some coffee and sweets at Mom’s Apple Pie Bakery, barely making it before the shop closed at 5PM.
All in all, it was a super fun day trip. I learned a lot along the way about Virginia cider, got to go back to Catoctin Creek Distillery which I absolutely adore and even made a few new friends along the way. I don’t think it gets any better than that 😉