Party Time for Va. Apple Growers As Hard Cider Bill Passes

by ARLnow.com February 16, 2011 at 12:18 pm 5,470 37 Comments

The state Senate yesterday unanimously gave final approval to a bill that will permit the production of hard cider at higher alcohol levels.

The bill’s original sponsor, Del. David Englin (D), says that Virginia’s apples naturally ferment at an alcohol content between four and 10 percent, but current state law caps that level at seven percent.

“If we let them produce real Virginia cider, the kind that Thomas Jefferson served at his dinner table, we’ll clear the way for Virginia to become the world’s leading producer of this popular libation,” said Englin, who represents parts of Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax County.

“This is a jobs bill,” Englin added.

Englin issued the following press release about the bill this morning.

Richmond – With a final unanimous vote in the Virginia Senate, the General Assembly yesterday passed the Virginia Cider Act, which will allow Virginia cider producers to naturally ferment their cider without artificially capping the alcohol content. House Bill 2295, sponsored by Delegate David Englin (D-45), will launch a renaissance in Virginia’s burgeoning hard cider industry, opening the door for Virginia to become the world’s leading producer of traditional hard cider, according to industry experts.

“This legislation is a critical breakthrough for those dedicated to reintroducing Virginia and America to the libation our forebears made and enjoyed in the agrarian society from which we sprung. It will be a significant support to the development of a new industry, attractive to the tourists who visit our Commonwealth as well as our own people,” said Charlotte Shelton, founder and owner of Albemarle CiderWorks, who testified for the bill. “This legislation permits Virginia ciderists to produce a natural beverage without amendment reminiscent of what Jefferson served at Monticello and what Washington produced and served at Mount Vernon. Before this bill, Virginia ciders were required to be seven percent alcohol or less. Our apples do not know this. Apples grown in Virginia ferment naturally to something between four and 10 percent alcohol. This legislation frees Virginia ciderists to make the beverage apples were meant to produce, without amendment or adulteration.”

“I’m honored to have had the opportunity to help a burgeoning industry and to support the market for locally-grown Virginia apples,” said Englin, who carried the bill at the request of the Virginia Wine Council, whose members include cider producers. “My constituents are ecologically-conscious urbanites with a strong preference for locally-grown and locally-made agriculture products. This is an example of the mutually-beneficial relationship between urban and rural parts of our state.”

“One does not know how to predict how far it may develop or may grow,” said Shelton. “After all, 30 years ago, the very term Virginia wine was a virtual oxymoron, but today there are nearly 200 wineries in Virginia and Virginia wines have achieved an international reach. How much more logical to think that Virginia Cider may do as well or better? After all, grapes were a problematical crop for Mr. Jefferson, but he had two orchards, one devoted exclusively to cider apples.”

Delegate David Englin is Vice Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus and is serving his third term in the Virginia House of Delegates, where he represents the 45th District, which includes parts of the City of Alexandria, Fairfax County, and Arlington County. An Air Force veteran, Englin is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy and Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He serves on the Finance Committee, the Health, Welfare, and Institutions Committee, and the Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources Committee. For more information, visit http://www.davidenglin.org.

  • Westover

    Finally something Englin and I can agree on!

  • steve

    This will last until some idiot underage kid gets too drunk and gets hospitalized, then the libs will ban it for everyone because one stupid idiot broke the law and couldn’t handle her booze, like with FourLoko or alocholic whipped cream. Apples are yummy and thus kids will be tempted! BAN BAN BAN!

    • Ballstonian

      Grapes are yummy, yet wine endures. Wine coolers and malt beverages are also yummy, yet they are still on the sold.

      • Ballstonian

        Oops, I mean they are still sold. I originally wrote “still on the shelves.”

    • Resident

      Actually, Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna was the first to call for a ban of the drink in his state and also solicited the FDA to ban the drink completely. He is a republican. You are an idiot.

    • Bluemont John

      Typically, you make no sense. Liberals do not want to ban any kind of booze. In fact, many liberals (and some conservatives, including cops) are for decriminalization of marijuana.

      I’m liberal on most things, and I think this is a great bill. Can’t wait to try some VA hard cider.

    • mehoo

      You desperately need a drink, steve. How about some cider?

    • Runaway Train

      I wish I had it all figured out like you Steve. “Liberals want to ban the Weenie Beenie because it’s unhealthy, its the Prius owners that can’t stop at stop signs, and liberals clearly will ban hard cider after one kid gets drunk” This is the Gospel of our Steve. Take a Xanax man! Life isn’t that serious.

    • GMo

      You can still purchase all the FourLoko you want…same alchohol content just minus the caffine/ginsing/redbull additives.

    • BoredHouseWife


  • This guy is a pale shade of Efre.m Horn.bostle

  • Newt

    Steve, you are by far theeeee most annoying person on the planet or at least in Arlington.

    • Steve is going away for awhile to give others the opportunity to have a more civil discussion.

      I expect the Steve critics will get away from the name-calling and personal attacks, as well.

      • Unban Efram!

      • GoVegArlington

        Thank you ARLnow!!!

      • david

        Thank you!

  • Duff Cider

    Does this mean I will be able to buy K Cider again???

  • Lacy Forest

    Excellent. Hard cider is my drink of choice when compared to beer and no, Steve, your assertion is highly unlikely as there have been beers on the market in VA for years with alcohol contents above above 7 percent with no issue. VA actually has no limit on the alcohol content of beer, at least as of the last time I checked.

    • Westover

      Isn’t there a difference between tavern/bar/resturants and what can be sold retail?

      • GMo

        I don’t believe so. I’ve purchased 18%abv belgian style at Westover Market and have been served 12%abv Dogfish Head 120min IPA at the place in seven corners.

        • metro

          120 minute IPA is generally close to 18% ABV

          • GMo

            I stand corrected. No wonder I love that stuff so much.

          • Newt

            That stuff is great but don’t make any plans if you have one, I felt like I was hit by a truck the next morning.

  • Libs

    How strong we talking ?

    • 10% — which puts it into the range of of wine / barelywine. Cider greater than .5% (what your average beer is) is classified as “hard” cider.

      I hope the bill prevents people selling apple juice spiked with grain to be able to label it as “hard”

      • metro

        Average beer would be more than 0.5% ABV, that’s barely alcoholic. Your run of the mill pisswater beer (Bud Light, Miller Lite, and Coors Light) is around 4.2% ABV.

        • mehoo

          I think he meant 5%, not .5%.

  • Ryan


  • Mark

    Nice! Great move by Englin to bridge the urban/rural gap in Va.

  • LyonSteve

    It really sickens me that politicians have to attach “Jobs” to everything.

    “This is a jobs bill,” Englin added.

    For example, I recall hearing our President last week discuss a free trade deal with Columbia. I believe he said that it would create (x)xx,xxx jobs in the USA. But how many jobs would it eliminate? Probably a whole bunch more.

  • Arlwhenever

    So, does this mean Boones Farm Apple is a cider or a wine?

  • Four Loko was redonk, taking whippits with shots of alchohol is also insanium.

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