Foggy Ridge Cider, Blue Ridge Mountains
California Sales Only
|Country & Region||America, Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia|
Our favorite was in fact called Serious Cider, from Foggy Ridge in Virginia: pale
gold, elegant, austere yet pure, with crisp, tart flavors. –Eric Asimov, The New York Times
I met Diane Flynt in 2015 during a show in Virginia. We were both pouring our wares, and there was a buzz going around the floor about the Foggy Ridge ciders. This was interesting, so I went over to her table and tasted a terrific bone-dry cider. I became downright intrigued when Diane said that her farm is in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My family’s farm is in the lee of those mountains in the Shenandoah Valley and farm production from that part of the world is close to my heart (my brother is partners with Joel Salatin, one of the hero’s of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, in a small abattoir, and Salatin’s cattle, chickens and turkeys run on our farm).
So I was delighted to find that common ground with Diane. Best of all, her ciders were, and are, fabulous. Authentic too in every way—a small farm with its own orchards high
in the Appalachians dedicated to heirloom cider varieties, and made, at Diane’s insistence, like wine. She wants you to treat it like wine too.
Diane grew up in rural Georgia, spent much of her professional career in banking, then said goodbye to all that to go into apple farming and cider making. She visited cider
producers in Europe and learned the basics of fermentation at Peter Mitchell’s cider school at Pershore College in England (she further studied fermentation science at the
Signature Wine Lab in Sonoma County). In 1997 she planted her first orchard on the Blue Ridge Mountains deep in southwest Virginia, making Foggy Ridge—named for the
morning fog rising from a stream near her place—the first modern farm winery south of Massachusetts to focus full time on apple growing and cider production. To return to the
land and make something of it was a dream, and it took bona fide form with her first vintage in 2004.
She planted two additional orchards on her farm and made all of the cider until 2009, when Jocelyn Kuzelka joined her on a part-time basis. Jocelyn is a biochemist with a MS
in enology, and these days she’s in the cellar two days a week while Diane does the rest. The orchards are picked in multiple passes for optimum ripeness, the apples are pressed
on site, and the juice ferments slowly in cold temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Some varieties are fermented alone; others co-ferment in field blends. Cuvée blends are done later, and every cider is the product of a specific vintage (noted on the back label lot number). No additions such as hops, oak, or other fruit are done, and no sugar is added.
Foggy Ridge’s orchards grow at 3,000 feet and are planted to over 30 heirloom varieties picked for their tannin, acid and sugar qualities. Diane even planted saplings of Harrison—one of the most famous American cider apples in the 19th century, thought to have gone extinct until an ancient tree was discovered in New Jersey in 1976. Diane was the first to plant saplings that came from this gray beard of a lone tree, and she subsequently worked with a grafter to collect cuttings from her orchard to propagate over 10,000 trees in the on-going renewal of the Harrison. Other old-fashioned cider varieties like Ashmead’s Kernel, Newtown Pippin and Hewe’s Crabapple (an apple favored by Thomas Jefferson at Monticello) are blended with classic English cider apples like Dabinett and Tremlett’s Bitter to create four sparkling ciders and two dessert cider blends of hard cider and apple brandy. Production in 2015 was 5,300 cases.
The Foggy Ridge ciders have been widely applauded by the media, perhaps most notably in topping Eric Asimov’s list of best artisan cider in a New York Times article (November 2013). In 2015, Foggy Ridge Cider was nominated for a James Beard Award for Outstanding Beverage Professional.
| First Fruit||From the farm’s best early season apples such as Harrison, Graniwinkle, and Cox’s Orange Pippin. Later season varieties—Newtown Pippin, Roxbury Russet and Arkansas Black—add layers of ripe apple flavors and aroma. The famous Virginia cider apple, Hewe’s Crab (Th. Jefferson’s favorite), gives lively acidity to the blend.||A crisp, fruity cider. As with all Foggy Ridge ciders, this is best served in a wine glass. Lot number on back label tells the vintage for this crisp cider (residual sugar is around 1%). Production is around 1,100 cases annually.|
|Serious Cider||Highly tannic apples such as Dabinett, Tremlett’s Bitter and Yarlington Mill are blended with fruity aromatic apples such as Grimes Golden, Gold Rush, and Newtown Pippin.||Dry, crisp, and comparable to low-dosage Champagne. A focused, textured, long and deliciously tannic cider. Lot number on back label gives the vintage. This is a decidedly dry cider (residual sugar is about 0.4%). Production is around 1,200 cases annually.|
|Stayman Winesap Cider||Winesap with Stayman, then possibly Pink Lady, Newtown Pippin, and others||Base of Stayman and Winesap apples blended with varying amounts and kinds of heirlooms, depending on the need for acidity, aroma, and/or tannin. This is a full-bodied, rich cider made from two old standbys long celebrated in the Blue Ridge Mountains. RS is about 1.5%. Around 900 cases annually.|