– By Dave Williams
Completing a journey begun when the first English settlers arrived in Virginia carrying apple saplings with their few belongings, hard cider has returned to Loudoun County where, as in most of the nation, it once held sway as America’s favorite alcoholic drink.
Loudoun is not the first county in Virginia to see the return of this once popular favorite, but with the opening of Corcoran’s Cidery at the Corcoran Vineyards off the Berlin Pike just above Waterford on July 5 and the imminent opening of Mt Defiance Cidery and Distillery in the heart of Middleburg next to Southern States, Loudoun has a new product to boast about.
Jim and Lori Corcoran already run a successful winery and tasting room at their farm vineyard. They recently moved a brewery business away from the farm into a brewery and tasting room on Hirst Rd in Purcellville. The new Cidery is housed in the space which previously housed the brewery and is complemented by a new BBQ business for the enjoyment of lunch on the site. Lori expects to produce 150 barrells at 55 gallons each in the first year of operation. The cider is made from 7 different varieties of apple grown near Winchester. They will start off with 4 types, a basic off-dry cider, a sweeter variety, one aged in bourbon barrels, and one with some fruity addition like pear or berries. The Cider will be served on tap, and sold in kegs or 22 oz bottles. The alcoholic content of the Corcoran.s light, gluten –free drink is about the same as beer, 5%.
In Middleburg, finishing touches are being made to a very visible cidery and distilling business in the middle of town. Owner Marc Chretian wanted an elegant locale for what he hopes will be a elegant cider close to the famous cidres of Normandy, France, which are bottled and enjoyed like champagne. For now the apple juice being fermented is shipped down from Vermont. Some of the cider will be distilled into apple bandy. Cider will be in several styles, their basic dry farmhouse, one in bourbon barrels, and one flavored with ingredients such as ginger or blueberry. They are also planning to make a true Absinthe, now safe and totally legal.
These new businesses will add to what is a growing rural enterprise in Western Loudoun, attracting tourists and enhancing the county’s reputation for modern cuisine, But Cider once was America’s favorite drink and more popular than beer. John Adams said he drank a tankard every morning. Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia in 1676 was blamed at the time by a leading politicians on cider: “All plantations flowing with syder, soe unripe drank by our licentious inhabitants, that they allow no tyme for its
fermentation but in their braines.”
A popular ditty of the day from Maryland boasted
Our fires are wood
Our houses are good,
Our diet sawney and hominy
Drink, juice of the apple
Tobacco’s our staple
Gloria Tibi Domine!
Why hard cider ceased to be so popular is a mystery still debated. (See http:mason.gmu.edu/~drwillia for example) But that it has now returned to Loudoun County is something to be heralded.