Apples Were On The Agenda During a Tart Trip To Dugspur
Hitting the mountain back roads on a lazy Saturday afternoon always warms my imagination, especially exploring the Blue Ridge Highlands of Southwest Virginia. Taking the twisting, turning byways off the Blue Ridge Parkway in Carroll County was made even more appealing with the anticipation of a visit to Foggy Ridge Cider at Dugspur.
The thick trees of the apple orchard majestically load the landscape at Foggy Ridge Cider’s elevation of about 3,000 feet, near the modest but welcoming Cider House. Outside, half a dozen patrons relaxed on a small porch, sipping cider, while inside about a half-dozen more gathered at a tasting table, hearing school teacher and cider-server Irena Childress explain the history of Foggy Ridge Cider. Diane Flynt and her husband, Chuck, planted the first apples here in 1997; Foggy Ridge gained an ABC license in 2004. “We ferment slowly in stainless steel and do not add flavorings such as hops or other fruit juices,” Diane Flynt said. “We believe great cider begins with great ingredients, which to us means authentic cider apples, full of tannin, acidity and complex flavor.”
Standard tastings cost $5 for five varieties. Among them: The Serious Cider awakened my palette with a taste like Brut Champagne, providing a tart citrus aroma and a long finish. The aptly-named First Fruit was more refreshing and more flavorful, made from Hewe’s Crabapples. I sensed an even richer apple flavor in the crisp and fruity Stayman Winesap, made from the mountain-grown Winesap apple. Then I finished with an ounce of the sweet-and-filling Pippin Gold Dessert Cider, a port made from the hard apple cider of Foggy Ridge and the apple brandy of Laird’s, one of the country’s oldest distillers. That dessert cider, incidentally, could provide more than just a drink. “We also suggest drizzling it over pound cake and ice cream,” Childress said. “And blending the Serious Cider and the Pippin Gold makes a really nice cocktail.”
Diane Flynt’s dedication to producing a sustainable resource proved a rewarding discovery, especially as she offered to lead a brief tour of the heirloom apple orchard. “Our goal has always been to grow authentic high tannin cider apples and make a fine cider, like winemakers make fine wine,” Flynt says. “I feel as if I’ve come back to my roots and feel privileged to grow trees that will outlive me, producing cider apples long after I’m gone.”
Hours and Events
Open seasonally April to Thanksgiving, based on weather, on Saturday 11 a.m.–5 p.m. and Sunday Noon–5 p.m. The Fall Orchard Walk (Sept. 16, 1–2:30 p.m. and 3–4:30 pm.) includes walk, handouts, glass of cider on crush pad, cider and apple tasting plus logo glass for $10. The Apple Harvest Celebration (Sept. 30, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.) features more than a dozen authentic cider apples to sample, heirloom apples for purchase and picnic items for an orchard picnic; cost is $7 for apple tasting, cider samples and logo glass.
1328 Pineview Rd., Dugspur. 276-398-2337. FoggyRidgeCider.com