Move over wine and craft beer, hard cider is a rapidly growing industry in central Virginia - and the Virginia Department of Agriculture is backing it with some cash.
Hard cider was the drink of choice for America's founding fathers. Now an Albemarle County cidery is planting the kind of apples Thomas Jefferson grew - thanks to a $500 grant from the state.
Potter's Craft Cider ferments complex apple cider in oak brandy barrels.
"We are seeing this resurgence where more and more people are getting into cider again," said Tim Edmond, Potter's Craft Cider co-owner.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture is behind that resurgence after studies showed, like wine and craft beer, hard cider stands to make a profit for Virginians.
"It's in between beer and wine; most wine's a little stronger and most beer is not that strong," said Daniel Potter, Potter's Craft Cider co-owner.
Potter's Craft Cider is one of nine that received a grant administered through the Nelson County Office of Economic Development (read the full list below).
"Through that grant we are able to plant heritage variety apples that we can't find anywhere which is an old apple variety," said Edmond.
They are similar to the apples Thomas Jefferson grew for his own cider, but because of their strong taste, you won't likely find them in a grocery store.
"A lot of growers might not take a chance to grow these apples," said Edmond.
The funding makes it possible - and may encourage other cideries to do the same - and according to Edmond, there is room for growth.
"Cider overseas is 17 percent of the beer market more or less and here in the states it is about .2 percent," said Edmond.
The grant process has also helped Virginia producers collaborate.
"We are kind of establishing ourselves as our brand, our unique drink, and I think it is starting to catch on locally," said Edmond.
Potter's owners say local cideries welcome visitors who want to learn more.
For the full list of orchards/cideries that received funding, read below:
Saunders Brothers Inc., Piney River
Drumheller's Orchard, Lovingston
Silver Creek Orchards Inc., Tyro
Bowman Orchards LLC, Timberville
Showalter's Orchard & Greenhouse LLC, Timberville
Potter's Craft Cider, Free Union
Morris Orchard, Monroe
SAK Enterprise, Broadway
Highland Orchard Farm, Covesville
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