Archive for January, 2017


An apple a day

Posted on Jan 11 2017 | By

Keeping the doctor at bay with fermented apples 

Over 400 years ago the first Virginians struggled to turn grapes into wine. It was a lost cause.

Between the humidity, insects, unpalatable native grapes and the impossible to grow European grapes, wine became a rare sight on a colonist’s dinner table.

But every age needs its social lubricant so the beverage of choice was cider. Hard cider that is.

Of course, beer and whiskey also kept our hardworking early citizens happy but hard cider was the drink of the masses.

Over time, however, the potion largely faded into history as other adult beverages gained popularity.

But today, hard cider is making a strong comeback and one of the Old Dominion’s top producers is located right here in Fauquier County. In fact, it’s the only cidery in the county.

Cobbler Mountain Winery & Cidery

Cobbler Mountain Cidery

Located in Delaplane, Jeff and Laura McCarthy Louden opened their establishment in July, 2011. They were initially known mostly for their wine production but the couple’s earliest alcoholic offerings included hard cider.

“The day we opened we had our original Honey Hard Cider for sale,” said Laura. “Jeff has always made cider. Now everybody realizes he made it back then too.”

The couple’s early adoption of an old Virginia favorite was prescient. In less than two decades the state’s producers have grown from zero to over 20 cideries; more are on the way.

The Loudens produce 11 different ciders along with their wines; typically eight ciders are available for tasting. The wine is served in their tasting room and cider in the tap room so aficionados can focus on each beverage independently.

The apples are estate grown or come from a nearby managed orchard. Varieties include Fuji, Ginger Gold, Red Delicious and others. Often two or more pressed apple juices are blended together to enhance flavors.

The cider is fermented and aged in both stainless steel tanks and barrels. One unique cider is hop infused. Heat is not used in the process so the bitter hop oils are not released into the cider but enhance aromas and flavors. It’s a favorite of beer lovers.

The cider side of the business has grown significantly and the Loudens are investing more time and resources to the product. “Cider now dominates over wine. Ultimately we will offer only our reserve collection of wines.

“Our time, energy and investment is now focused on cider. That’s what we will send our twins to college with,” Laura McCarthy Louden said. To make it all happen, “We work three straight weeks and then take a day off.”

So is living the good life making wine and cider rewarding? “We have so much fun with the business. We enjoy the different releases and so do our customers. I’m glad the rest of the world is catching on to cider,” Laura McCarthy louden said.

Cobbler Mountain Winery & Cidery is located at 5909 Long Fall Lane, Delaplane and is open five days a week. Visit their Facebook page—and soon to be updated website—for operating hours and event

                                                             How’s it made

At harvest, apples are sorted by category based on acidity and bitter tannins. The apples are allowed to soften to develop flavors and increase sugars, washed, sorted and processed.

They are then ground into a pomace and placed in a press to extract the juice.

The heart of the process is fermentation, the magic act that converts sugars to alcohol and a host of interesting flavors. Either wild or commercial yeasts are used to ignite and complete the fermentation process.

The fermented cider is then filtered, typically pasteurized, and aged in stainless steel tanks or barrels before bottling.

The end product can bear a likeness to wine with a host of aromas and flavors and contain some residual sugar or be bone dry. It will usually contain between 5 percent to 7 percent alcohol and will pair beautifully with a variety of foods.

A typical response of first time hard cider drinkers is, “This is delicious!”

And indeed it is.

                                                 Flip side of hard is sweet 

So does all cider offer up a buzz? Not at all. Sweet cider, or commonly referred to as apple cider, is simply apple juice that has not undergone a filtration process. The cloudy juice is a flavorful and healthful alternative to hard cider.

The process used in making apple cider is straight forward. At harvest, the apples are cut, mashed and ground into a pulp that is pressed and pumped into refrigerated tanks.

Apple juice is available year around in grocery stores and has been filtered and treated to kill bacteria, extending its shelf life.

The real McCoy receives little handling other that pressing, bottling and refrigerating. In fact, it requires constant refrigeration because it is perishable.

It’s typically available in local markets as a seasonal product. Given its susceptibility to spoilage it is sold only from late August till Thanksgiving at selected markets such as the Buckland Farm Market in Warrenton.

The inherent health benefits of sweet cider make it an attractive choice for health conscious consumers.  A six-ounce glass has only 87 calories and contains Pectin, shown to help maintain lower cholesterol levels.

It is pure and natural with no sugar added.

So raw, hard or sweet apples can, indeed, keep the doctor away.


Published in the Fall 2016 edition of inFauquier magazine.

Categories : WINE ARTICLES