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Albemarle County Newsroom

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Apple Cider Feasibility Study Now Underway
3/8/2012

A USDA Specialty Crop Competitive Grant in the amount of $30,000 was recently awarded to Nelson County to study the production and expansion of hard cider production in Albemarle and Nelson Counties and across the Commonwealth.  The grant funds a feasibility study which will assess the market for and economic viability of hard cider production and also conduct research to support growing more specialized cider apple varieties.

“Exploring new ways to add additional value to Virginia's agricultural products can uncover new income opportunities for our growers” said Matt Lohr, Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, “when successful, these projects can also bring valuable tourism dollars to our rural communities.” 

In February, Virginia apples growers and cider producers were surveyed about the current state of the industry. Sixteen Virginia apple growers and cider producers participated in a roundtable discussion on March 2nd. The session was facilitated by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Project consultant, Chris Cook, from VA FAIRS was introduced, as was Dr. Greg Peck, Assistant Professor of Horticulture at Virginia Tech.  The feasibility study will be completed by the fall of 2012. This feasibility study is expected to show that hard cider  regional wine industry, the number of cideries in Albemarle and Nelson Counties could more than triple over the next ten years, an accomplishment clearly dependent on the availability of specialty apple varieties.

“We are extremely excited about the opportunity to take a more in depth look at the potential benefits of cider production for this area and across the Commonwealth,” says Albemarle County Executive Tom Foley. “This fits into the Albemarle’s overall rural economic development strategies that focus on agritourism and unique rural enterprises, which we are very interested in. This has the added benefit of promoting our area’s history as a premier grower of the Albemarle Pippin.”

Thomas Bruguiere, Nelson County West District Supervisor and owner of Dickie Brothers Orchard adds, “Nelson County is pleased to be the lead applicant and work with Albemarle County on this project. We need a better understanding of the market for and economics of hard cider and hard cider apples. At Dickie Brothers Orchard, we are already looking forward to adding additional varieties to our orchard based on the outcome of this study.”


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