029 – Diane Flynt, Foggy Ridge Cider
Cider is the fastest growing segment of the alcohol business, growing at a rate of over 100% a year. But it still only makes up 3% of the entire industry. How do we increase this number?
As Diane says, “The ingredients in the glass are important.” In other words, if you’re using shabby apples, you’re going to get shabby cider. Which is why Foggy Ridge uses only heritage cider apples it grows on its property, including English cider varieties Tremlett’s Bitter and Dabinett.
Proudly purist, Foggy Ridge uses no flavorings just the pure essence of blended heirloom apples. In her mind it’s the difference between a fine wine and a flavored wine cooler. Just taste her Serious Cider or First Fruit and you’ll understand exactly what she’s talking about. These are complex and layered ciders, worlds away from anything Angry Orchard could dream up. They pair perfectly with fatty meats, nutty cheeses. We even enjoyed it with our Thanksgiving turkey this year.
Diane spent years in the corporate world, but her family’s background and love of agriculture lead her to study apples. Foggy Ridge was the first farm winery in Virginia focusing entirely on growing and producing hard cider apples. Diane researched what to grow by talking with cidermakers and then figuring out what would grow well on the land in Dugspur, Virginia. They grow more than 30 varieties in their test orchards and in the ones used for production so Diane is always testing, trying out new flavors and varieties for new blends.
What is the difference between heritage and heirloom? And how does that relate to the apple’s value and how we can use that heritage fruit today? Why is a cider made with local apples not necessarily the best? Why does Diane blend instead of making cider from single varietals? What are Apple Memories and why did she create this part of her website? Which happens to be my favorite. I’ll be writing my own Apple Memories for the blog next week. Watch this space.
We discuss all of these topics including the history of hard cider in Virginia and how it might be a myth that folks drank cider instead of bad water back in the day. I learned so much listening to Diane and I know you will too. Please join us.
This episode is sponsored by In A Flash Laser Engraving.
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