When Bud and Mary Shelton retired and built a home on a small farm in Virginia’s Albemarle County, it was unlikely they knew the North Garden property would turn into one of the more respected vintage apple farms in Appalachia. With 20 fruit trees as the original orchard, two of their children, Charlotte and Chuck, took the site next level after attending several heirloom apple tastings conducted by apple legend Tom Burford. The siblings found inspiration in the scion’s enthusiasm and dedication to the fruit, and began planting historic Virginia apples on the family property.
Today, over 30 years since Bud first planted, the Shelton’s regularly grow more than 250 varieties of vintage apples on their farm and tree nursery, and make use of the fruit themselves with their Albemarle CiderWorks. One of the property’s more prized possessions — and one heralded by Burford himself, who still consults for the Shelton’s orchard — is its Harrison apple, which receives single varietal designation in this limited release cider.
When tasting with Chuck Shelton, he proclaimed the Harrison to be “the greatest cider apple that has ever originated in the United States,” explaining how the first tree was found in New Jersey, towering at more than 100-years-old, and was cut down one week later. Albemarle’s homage to the apple is rich and golden in color, emanating similar aromas, with cherry blossom and raspberry seed brimming in the back. The cider itself is dry and subtle, with lean tannins and bold fruit, a full-bodied tipple with a whip of acid in the finish.