Few American cider producers have received as many nods as Foggy Ridge in Dugspur, Virginia. The 12-year-old cidery might not be the oldest, biggest or boldest on the block, but it is one of the most respected, courtesy of orchardist and cidermaker Diane Flynt’s staunch dedication to apples and the craft of cider. Once criticized by a neighbor for “treating her trees like individuals,” Flynt — who was also one of the first commercial female grower-makers in the United States — and her talented team make vintage ciders from heritage apples in the misty hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Orchard-driven and varietal-specific ciders might be what the industry knows best of Foggy Ridge, but the artisan producer also has a couple specialty sippers to sweeten the pot. One such sticky is the Pippin Gold, a wine-style cider-brandy hybrid, similar to French pommeau. Like in the cryoconcentration method of ice cider, Newtown Pippin apples are picked late in the season and stored over the winter when the fruit is pressed, frozen and the concentrated juice is then fermented until it retains 5 percent residual sugar. The then-ice cider is blended with Laird and Company apple brandy to fortify the tipple and win over consumers with its honey-drenched apple charisma. Mulled spices dust the aromatics and scents of candied citrus rind and fleshy peach round out the olfactory senses and onto the palate. The finish viciously lingers with spiced apple butter, tropical fruit and a snap of acid.