Back in 1985, John Washburn bought a 50 acre farm on the Rockfish River in Nelson County, Virginia, attracted by the trout river running through the property and the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding the farm. As his daughters left the nest John and Robin moved to New Zealand. From time to time John would come back to Virginia and discovered a number of wineries had popped up and then the beer breweries started popping up. New Zealanders (Kiwis) love their cider and so he thought, could a hard cider bridge the gap between the great wine the area produces and the awesome beer that is being crafted locally?
Brian Shanks, one of the foremost cider experts in the world just happened to live in New Zealand. Brian had been in the apple orchard business and after a cyclone hit his orchard in the 1980s he got into making cider before cider became popular. Over the years he perfected his craft and eventually became known worldwide as the expert to go to for answers. As an international cider consultant Brian has helped companies in America, Europe, China, Australia and New Zealand.
Today John and Brian (and their wives) own and operate Bold Rock Hard Cider about 35 minutes northeast of Lynchburg on Route 151 in Nellysford, Virginia. The tasting area is open daily from 11-6 and having been there twice I can assure you it is worth the trip. You can view the entire process from the crushing of the apples to the bottling of the final product when the production line is operating. It is quite interesting, but if manufacturing isn’t your thing, then tasting a cold crisp clean bottle of cider is a great way to celebrate your arrival. If you bring a picnic lunch you can enjoy lunch on their deck or by the banks of the Rockfish River. Make sure you pick up a couple of 6 packs before you leave!
Bold Rock cider has been in operation since October 2010, but didn’t bottle their first bottle of cider until May 2012 (It takes time to build the buildings, install the equipment and then to ferment the apples). Their tasting room hasn’t been constructed yet but plans are drawn and work should start soon.
They are located at:
1020 Rockfish Valley Highway
Nellysford, VA 22958
Directions from The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast from Mapquest
|.||Start out going southeast on Cabell St toward D St.||0.01 mi|
|2.||Take the 1st right onto D St.
|3.||Turn left onto Rivermont Ave.
|4.||Turn left onto 5th St/VA-163. Continue to follow VA-163.
|5.||Turn right onto Old Town Conn/VA-210 E.
|6.||Merge onto US-29 N via the ramp on the left toward Amherst.
|7.||Turn slight left onto VA-151/Patrick Henry Hwy. Continue to follow VA-151.
On Saturday, August 25, 2012, at Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Nelson County, the 2012 Virginia Craft Brewers Festival will be held from 2 pm until 8 pm. Presented by the Virginia Craft Brewers Guild and the Virginia Manufacturers Association the festival is designed to gather all qualified Virginia Craft Brewers in an opportunity to promote craft brewing. The event will feature the Virginia Craft Beer cup (a competition in 5 categories with the cup being awarded to the best overall brewery), beer tastings, live music, delicious food, camping and bike races.
Beer tastings will be available from 22 Virginia Craft Brewers, including Lynchburg’s own Jefferson Street Brewery. Visit their web site at www.jeffersonstreetbrewery.com for descriptions of our local beers. Other breweries participating come from as far away as Hampton, Northern Virginia, Abington and everywhere in between.
Live music will be performed throughout the festival from some of Virginia’s best bands. Beginning at 2:15 pm with Love Cannon and ending with No BS! Brass Band at 6:45 pm a total of four bands will entertain you throughout the event.
The Rock Barn will prepare amazing food which will be available for purchase throughout the festival. Featured dishes include: Beer-poached TRB Bratwurst, Shrimp ‘n Grtis, “Tachos by Fardowners”, “Pretzels by ABC”, TRB “Barn Dogs” and various sides and accompaniments. All great dishes that will pair nicely with the beers being tasted.
Tickets will be sold using a variety of pricing options and inclusions. General Admission ($10-all beer tastings & food at an additional charge), Tasting Package ($36-admission to the festival, 1 4 oz. commemorative Tasting Glass, 10 4 oz. Tasting Tickets), VIP Package ($45-admission to the festival starting at 1 pm, VIP seating area under a tent with a view of the stage, 1 4 oz. Commemorative Tasting Glass, 1 Commemorative Tasting Mug, 10 4 oz. Tasting Tickets), Camping and RV Passes and mountain bike racing information can be found online (see www.virginiacraftbrewersfest.com for more details). **All prices listed are for advance purchase only! The rain date is Sunday, August 26th.
Take advantage of this inaugural event just up the road from Lynchburg and end your summer on a happy note. Stay at The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast and enjoy our legendary 4-course breakfast each morning. During the month of August we are featuring peaches in our fruit and main dish recipes. Visit our web site www.thecarriagehouseinnbandb.com to check our availability calendar.
If you’re heading to the festival and need directions for your GPS Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company is located at 200 Mosbys Run in Roseland, VA.
In 1794 Woodson’s Mill, as it is now known, opened and things haven’t changed much since then. The new owners Will and Sarah Brockenbrough, inherited the property after Will’s dad died in 2001, but the mill sat empty for over a decade until they decided to restore it. Both Will and Sarah have degrees in historic preservation so they wanted to bring the mill back to life but they wanted it to be as authentic as possible. Today they mill corn and wheat much as it would have been for over 200 years. The Mill sits on the Piney River and the river water is diverted from a dam upstream to a canal that powers the mill. In the early 1900’s there was some “modern” equipment installed in the mill and while it is still there but not utilized in the milling process today.
Organically grown grain from local farmers is milled in small batches. The grain is milled slowly to avoid the heat generated by commercial mills to prevent breaking down the oils in grain and to preserve the moisture and nutrients found in the grain giving you a product with more taste and texture. The final product is fresh and without any additives or preservatives. I checked the label from cornmeal purchased at a grocery store which had 7 ingredients vs. the corn meal from Woodson’s Mill which just listed white corn as the only ingredient. After this label comparison which product do you think we would rather eat!
The mill stones which grind the grain weigh about one ton. Water flows over the mill wheel which powers the stones. The speed of the stones is controlled by adjusting the flow of the water moving the large mill wheel. The best part of the mill is that you are able to see the whole process from start to finish. Fresh grain comes in and about 15 minutes later it’s grits or cornmeal. Originally the mill was a place to buy grain and later it became the social hub in Nelson County. Today it is one of the last grain mills in the country that still are operational. Visiting the mill offers you a rare glimpse of history.
The mill is only open on Saturdays which is when they typically grind the grain. It is worth the trip to see the mill in action and to buy whole grain flour or grits/cornmeal. If you can’t get by there on a Saturday they do sell their products online at www.woodsonsmill.com. They are sold in recyclable, compostable packages. While the mill uses only the flow of water to operate the milling equipment they currently use electricity for lighting. Soon they hope to generate their own power and be in a position to sell electricity back to the power company.
Woodson’s Mill is located about 45 minutes northwest of The Carriage House Inn Bed and Breakfast and is located at 3211 Lowesville Road, Lowesville, VA
- To reach the mill from Lynchburg take 29 north and travel about 16 miles (from RT 210 and RT 29)
- Turn Left onto RT 151 (Patrick Henry Highway) and travel 7.5 miles
- Turn left onto Lowesville Road and travel approximately 2.4 miles to the mill on the right.
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