Cider Season Rules
BY NEVIN MARTELL
There’s a bite in the air, the trees are a symphony of colors, and darkness comes earlier at the end of the day. It is harvest time again, and local farmers are going into overdrive picking and pressing their apples into thirst-quenching cider. Though plenty of producers sell their autumnal ambrosia at DC-area farmers’ markets and grocery stores, you can enjoy the natural beauty of this time of year by heading out into the countryside to get some straight from the source.
If you have a car full of kids who want to enjoy the classic flavor of fall, set your GPS for Weber’s Cider Mill Farm (2526 Proctor Lane, Parkville, MD, 410-668-4488) in northeastern Maryland. The oldest cider mill in the state presses fruit every day from September through December. For a special treat, order a cider slush, which will make you swear off Slurpees forever.
While out in the Old Line State, it’s worth stopping by McCutcheon’s Apple Products (13 S. Wisner St., 800-888-7537) in Frederick. Apple aficionados can pick up sauce, preserves, butter and cider vinaigrette—and, of course, plain old cider. The farm has some high-profile fans, including Susan Lacz, CEO of Bethesda-based Ridgewells (5525 Dorsey Lane, Bethesda, 301-652-1515), a luxe catering firm that uses the Maryland mainstay’s products exclusively in its cider chicken and cranberry cider musky duck. “We try to bring in local flavors as much as possible,” says Lacz. “And cider is one of those classic American tastes.”
Driving the other way from the District, cider seekers can get a tangy twist on the standard by stopping in at Virginia’s Murray Cider Co. (103 Murray Farm Road, Roanoke, VA, 540-977-9000). This family-owned enterprise crafts a unique cherry-apple blend, the perfect balance of tartness and sweetness.
Looking to wet your whistle with something a little stronger? Foggy Ridge Cider (1328 Pineview Road, Dugspur, VA, 276-398-2337) brews a trio of hard ciders made with heirloom American apples, like Roxbury Russett, Harrison and Graniwinkle. Its First Fruit cider is a good bet for relaxing after raking leaves; Serious Cider is a nice accompaniment to cheese and crackers; and Sweet Stayman Cider goes down well with a bowl of spicy chili.
Tipplers will also be pleased to know that Albemarle CiderWorks (2545 Rural Ridge Lane, North Garden, VA, 434-297-2326) offers a quartet of its own boozy beverages—Jupiter’s Legacy, Old Virginia Winesap, Royal Pippin and Ragged Mountain—which can take the edge off even the most disheartening Redskins loss. Whether you opt for an adult-appropriate cider or the kids’ stuff, you have plenty of satisfying ways to celebrate the bounty of the season.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GETTY IMAGES
Celebrating the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner at Carnegie Library.