A hard-core hard cider revival in Virginia's apple country is casting a new (dappled) light on the region.
Learn the Cider House Rules
The latest obsession in small-batch spirits takes cider back to its colonial roots. In the South, Diane Flynt of Foggy Ridge Cider (foggyridgecider.com) leads the way in hard cider making. Visit the tasting room in Dugspur to sample her five varieties.
Go to Town
Head to Floyd for lunch at Natasha's Market Café (natashasmarketcafe.com) before walking to famed bluegrass joint The Floyd Country Store (floydcountrystore.com). Ask the shopkeepers to suggest an album for the road.
Savor the Bounty
Check in to The Hotel Roanoke (hotelroanoke.com; rooms from $120). Dinner is at The River and Rail (riverandrailrestaurant.com), chef Aaron Deal's ode to Virginia. Try the lamb ribs ($11) with apple-sorghum barbecue sauce.
Take the Long Way
Jump on the Blue Ridge Parkway. (Milepost 76.5 is a great photo op.) In Monroe, stop for the best apple pie ever (yes, really ever) at Woodruff's Cafe & Pie Shop (434/384-1650; closed Sunday and Monday), family owned since the 1950s.
Have a Sip
Cider roots run deep in these parts. Visit places keeping the craft alive such as Albemarle CiderWorks (albemarleciderworks.com), with its seven ciders and orcharding classes, and Castle Hill Cider (castlehillcider.com), where they experiment with rare techniques, such as aging in clay pots underground.
In Charlottesville, claim a seat at The Whiskey Jar (thewhiskeyjarcville.com) for cider-glazed quail ($18) and a pint of locally made Potter's Craft Farmhouse Dry cider. Then cozy up at the Clifton Inn (cliftoninn.net; rooms from $225), outside the city, or the 200 South Street Inn (southstreetinn.com; rooms from $120), downtown.
Pick 'em Fresh
On the way out, load up on apples ($1.29 per pound) and cider donuts ($10 for a dozen) at Carter Mountain Orchard (cartermountainorchard.com). Walk the 100-year-old orchards and savor the scenery overlooking the mountains.