Cider in Virginia

Cider can be an alcoholic drink if fruit juices are allowed to ferment like wine. In contrast, producing beer and hard liquor (such as bourbon) requires heating the liquid product.1

In the 1600's and 1700's, cider was a very common alcoholic drink in Virgna taverns and houses. At a time when the demand for labor was so high that people were captured in Africa and involuntarily brought to Virginia to work, minimal investment of time was required to produce cider.

Apples and other fuits had to be ground to a pulp to extract the juice, but no equipment or time was required for boiling it. Containers of juice could be set aside until, over several days, wild yeasts naturally converted the sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide.

In 1647, a visitor to Virginia wrote:2

Mr. Richard Bennet had this yeer out of his Orchard as many Apples as he made 20 Butts of excellent Cider.

And Mr. Richard Kinsman hath had for this three or four yeers, forty or fifty Butts of Perry made out of his Orchard, pure and good.

So that you may perceive how proper our Country is for these fruits, and men begin now to plant great Orchards, and find the way of Grafting upon Crab-stocks, best for lasting, here being na‚ą£turally in this Land store of wild Crab-trees.

Mr. Hough at Nausamund, hath a curious Orchard also, with all kind and variety of severall fruits; the Governour in his new Orchard hath 15 hundred fruit-trees, besides his Apricocks, Peaches, Mellicotons, Quinces, VVardens, and such like fruits.

Apples in Virginia



1. "About Virginia Cider," Virginia Cider Association, (last checked January 22, 2024)
2. A perfect description of Virginia..., Prind for Richard Wodenoth, at the Star under Peters Church in Cornhill, 1649, (last checked January 22, 2024)

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