When Dan Potter and Tim Edmond launched Potter’s Craft Cider in 2011, there were only a handful of cideries in the commonwealth of Virginia. Crafting a cidery out of a repurposed horse veterinary clinic at Wildair Farm in Free Union, the duo were at the forefront of the rebirth of traditional craft cider — a renaissance that is picking up steam.
“Some amazing things are happening right now in our industry here in Virginia,” Tim says. “For one, it is bigger than ever, with new cideries popping up every month and each taking a slightly different approach to cidermaking.” Tim notes that he and Dan are often asked if they worry about the increased competition.
“The answer is flatly, ‘No,’’ he says. “On the contrary, we feel like as the cider category grows more robust and there are more and more high-quality options for people to try, Virginia Cider becomes a concept associated with the richness and diversity of its producers and one that is increasingly credited in the media and by critics across the country.”
Dan and Tim are working with others in the Virginia cider industry to establish an industry association, intended to bolster the broader group — allowing them to more effectively share resources and continue to grow the industry. Tim likens the effort to what the Virginia wine industry underwent ten to fifteen years ago. And, like the resulting rapid growth and heightened profile of Virginia wine, Tim sees a similar future in store for cider.
“We honestly believe that Virginia is producing the best ciders in the country and are thrilled to continue to grow and assist the up-and-coming cideries in any way that we can,” he says.
While they work to bolster the industry as a whole, Dan and Tim are also expanding production and deepening the Potter’s Craft product lineup.
“The past couple of seasons have been really rewarding in terms of the quality of fruit that we have been working with, the resulting ciders, and the improvements that we have implemented to our process and equipment,” Tim says, noting that as their production has grown, Potter’s Craft has released several new ciders — including Hop, which uses a cold infusion process with whole-leaf Citra and Amarillo hops to create a slightly floral, light-tasting cider. The team has also ramped up its collaborative efforts, creating a Seville Orange Cider with Lampo Neapolitan Pizza and Ryesap, a smokey basque-style cider aged in Copper Fox Distillery’s rye whisky barrels. Amid this growth, Potter’s Craft has also expanded its distribution footprint across the commonwealth of Virginia and into Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Not about to rest on their laurels, Tim and Dan are working on additional new ciders, including a summertime grapefruit- and hibiscus-infused cider and a cider macerated on apple skins. They are also continuing with their barrel aging program, and have ciders aging in neutral American Oak red wine barrels, rum barrels, rye whisky barrels, and the apple brandy barrels that produce Potter’s Craft Oak Barrel Reserve. The team plans to release small-batch “Sapling Series” ciders in 375 mL champagne style splits, which will be available exclusively at the duo’s 2015 Pop-Up Tasting Room Series at Greenwood Gourmet Grocery in Crozet and tastings at the team’s hotly anticipated 1965 Airstream trailer tasting room, which will be ready later this summer.
“We are having an absolute blast converting the trailer into our tasting room,” Tim says. “We have about 200 hours of polishing ahead of us.”