You know, my plan for the day was a drive down to the auction to shoot the breeze with David - and he was very patient with me, since he had work to do and here was the city slicker asking a bunch of dumb questions. I did try to stay out of the way on the farm stops we made, but when we passed the sign for the cidery over in Timberville, I asked him if he wouldn't make a stop for me.
Turns out he knew the folks so he was able to show me around. Not much going on yet that morning, but there were a bunch of fresh apples (including this crate of Golden Delicious) waiting to be pressed. I didn't get too close to the other crates, but they were full of red varieties, most likely Valley heirlooms.
The Shenandoah Valley has a great history of apple growing, and this type of agriculture was a source of prosperity for the region over the years. It seems to be making something of a comeback these days, as an agrotourism attraction when we begin to acknowledge and celebrate traditions like these.
A few years back I read The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan. He spends a couple of chapters in the book writing about apples and their historic role in the westward expansion of our country.
That book is also where I read about the fascinating connection between Johnny Appleseed, the folk lore character, and cider pressing. We all know the story of how Johnny Appleseed traveled around young America planting apple trees where ever he went. As the story is related in Pollan's book, the seeds all came from the discarded pulp at cideries, and he hauled them by flatboat and canoe from Maryland and Pennsylvania out into Ohio and the midwest, planting them on small lots in advance of the onslaught of the population migrating westward.
It's really worth a read - I may pick it up again myself!
Meanwhile, David and I decided to make a stop in the tasting room. I ended up with three bottles, a traditional variety, a late harvest one, and then one that had a nice dry finish. Admittedly, I geeked out a little on the discussion of fermentation while we were there.
After the cidery, we headed back to Luray to wrap up the day's driving around. I still had one more adventure left in me by then - and had to drive up to Purcellville for that. So it was time for me to let David get on with this work, and for me to get on the road, when we shook hands a parted ways at noon.