Diane Flynt planted her American heritage apple orchard in 1997 with an eye to producing fine cider with the same careful attention to slow fermentation and artful blending that a winemaker attends to when making wine.
Like a winemaker, she started with the place where the fruit is grown. Foggy Ridge is sited at 3000 feet in Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains where, in Flynt's words: “Steep hillsides drain frost; quartz rocks lighten loamy clay soil. Cool nights and warm days … result in crisp acidity and ripe sugars.”
Then she planted the right fruit in this hospitable soil: “I wanted to grow the very best ingredients for cider, which meant apple varieties that offer two qualities that don’t work so well in a pie or in your mouth—tannin and acid. The best cider apples are bitter, full of bracing acidity and not for sissies. Tremlett’s Bitter, Dabinett, Harrison and Hewe’s Crab contribute tannin; Ashmead’s Kernel adds sharp acids. Highly flavored apples like Pitmaston Pineapple and Cox’s Orange Pippin offer layers of spice and floral notes.”
Flynt has nurtured and restored a rich diversity of apple varieties across her three Virginia orchards—some of which have never been grown in the south and others which haven't been seen in the region since Jefferson maintained his orchard at Monticello. Additional varieties include:
• The American heirloom Graniwinkle and Roxbury Russett, prized by early colonists for the fine cider they made
• The Muscadet de Berney, a tannic “spitter” which lives up to the old cidermaker’s adage: Take a bite: The farther you spit it, the better the cider
• The Pomme Gris, which looks like a potato and tastes of ginger
• The highly tannic Foxwelp
• The classic English Kingston Black cider apple
• The lively acidic Ribston Pippin
• And more
Foggy Ridge cider has been selected as a Wine Enthusiast Editor’s Choice for dry, sparkling ciders that possess an “enticing nose, silky round palate” and a “streamlined and snappy” finish, and as an Editor’s Pick by Martha Stewart Magazine, which applauds Foggy Ridge cider for its “champagne-like” quality. We are pleased to share Foggy Ridge Cider, curated by maker Diane Flynt, with our subscribers in February.