California has wine, Kentucky has bourbon, Virginia has cider, historian says

Historians in the News

South Carolina claims vodka-infused sweet tea. Kentucky boasts its whiskey and juleps.

In Virginia, tourism officials are quick to mention the state's wine country and the 200 wineries that quantify the designation.

Now the General Assembly, with urging from the state's wine board, has passed a bill that its sponsors say will help "Virginia's burgeoning hard cider industry."...

Sarah Meacham, an assistant professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University who wrote a book on cider, said cidering in Virginia, and specifically in Hampton Roads, dates back to the 1600s.

Unlike in New England, Virginia's cities and towns were too far apart to create concentrated markets to trade the ingredients for beer. Plus, the warmer temperatures here didn't favor beer-making.

Instead, colonists took advantage of the bountiful apples and pressed cider. Then they drank it. Lots of it. Lots and lots and lots of cider.

That was especially true in this area, where cider was cleaner, tastier and healthier than the water. While Meacham can't prove it, she believes cider was a key factor in keeping colonists alive....

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