Blends tradition with innovation
By Calie Brummer
Hendersonville’s Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cider now has its own tasting room set in a renovated 1940s barn. There guests can enjoy fresh-pressed hard ciders, apple products and a cozy downstairs lounge, which will soon offer high spirits and French press coffee. The barn sits on family land passed down over nine generations and is nestled among acres of French apple trees brought over from the Normandy region of France.
“Passion and tradition are hard work with a purpose,” says Alan Ward, owner of Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cider. Ward worked hard to honor the history of those who owned the land before and he renovated the old barn with a keen eye for preservation. The interior of the tasting room utilizes original materials from the barn. Tables were once stable doors and the bar was a farmer’s work bench. Gouges in the old wood floor are a testament to the hard work that kept the farm running years ago. From handwoven fabrics and delicate figurines to pneumatic pruners dating back to the 1960s, the cidery is full of relics that offer a glimpse into the past.
The tasting room, welcoming and warm, serves hard ciders pressed and bottled on site, and will soon offer brandy and Pommeau for tasting and purchase. Guests will be able to taste several varieties of cider handcrafted at the orchard during tastings that begin upstairs in the tasting room. Ciders are served with a European biscuit, local jellies and apple butters.
The tasting experience focuses on the history behind French cider making and explains the process of growing apples and making cider. Fat tire bike tours guide guests through the sprawling orchards behind the barn, home to 14 varieties of French apple trees. The ciders range from dry to sweet, boasting crisp and fresh flavors, and are best enjoyed in an antique patio chair looking out over the mountain orchards.
The French traditions of cider making are evident throughout the cidery, especially in the orchard where the trees were delicately transferred from the Normandy region. “We take the good things we learned from the people in Normandy, bringing back fruit and trees as well as valuable knowledge,” says Ward. The French apple trees have been carefully nurtured and adjusted to grow in the orchard with the guidance of Marvin Owings, who works closely with Ward to transport trees from France and properly adapt them to local soil. The Appalachian Mountains are the second oldest range in the world, offering geological diversity and a climate perfect for growing apples.
Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cider is open every day of the year, including holidays. Guests are welcome to sample ciders, purchase bottles to take home and sit and stay a while on the spacious back porch.
Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cider is located just past St. Paul Mountain Vineyards at 749 Chestnut Gap Road in Hendersonville.