Neighboring farmers have been known to raise an eyebrow at apple grower and Foggy Ridge cider maker Diane Flynt.
According to them, "She treats her trees like individuals" – something that makes Diane herself a true individual in a world where apples don't often receive the lavish attention necessary to make top-quality, carefully crafted cider.
That's just the sort of cider Diane aims to make, using modern tools to improve on and revive the artisan cidermaking tradition. Foggy Ridge consists of three orchards, located in Dugspur, Virginia – the southeast region of the state that happens to be the exact place where cidermaking became integral to the early colonists centuries ago, and where apples reach peak deliciousness in the shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Foggy Ridge harvests ripe cider apples, chosen for their balance of tannin (the same bitter notes found in black tea or walnut skins), acid and complex flavors, and crafts them into small batches of carefully selected cider blends. Each cider goes through a long process in which individual tanks are fermented with their own unique conditions and several apple varieties are blended together to create unique, beautifully layered flavors.
The elements differ from season to season, and so the ciders do as well. And every step of the way, from grafting and pruning in the orchard to picking and blending in the Cider House, Diane and her team are closely involved – she loves the challenge of managing fermentation, creating new blends and solving new problems every day. After her former career as a banker and businesswoman, these mental challenges are welcome, and as a lifelong plant-lover, becoming a farmer felt like home.
Her favorite part of the whole thing? Walking amongst the growing trees, knowing they'll continue to produce fruit long after she's gone.