Virginia is for lovers, and has been since the adage was coined in 1969. But Virginia has been for cider lovers since the commonwealth was formed in the founding of America, with patriots like Thomas Jefferson and his Monticello orchard outside Charlottesville leading the way. A fervent cider drinker and grower who concentrated on only four cultivars for cider production (Hewes’ Crab, Taliaferro, Newtown Pippin and Esopus Spitzenburg), Jefferson’s impact on the vintage apples of Virginia is still felt today and the varieties are often unparalleled in the regional ciders.
With a respectful nod to its storied history and looking forward, Blue Bee Cider in Richmond was the state’s first urban cidery, located in an early 20th century coffee warehouse and producing ciders with the heirloom apples of America past and rarities unique to Virginia. The Aragon 1904, named for the coffee building and its foundation date, is a blend of these apples that seeks the silky complexity of Champagne. Light, bright and off-dry, a round palate fleshes into flavors of apple, mineral and golden raisin that come to a close with a honeyed tropical finish and the need for some goat cheese-slathered toast.