Published June 2, 2010

Thomas Jefferson experimented with eighteen or more varieties of apples at Monticello, only a few miles from the orchard faithfully tended by the Shelton family in North Garden, Virginia. The most important use of apples in Colonial Virginia was cider, valued not so much for drinking fresh from the press as for fermenting into a wholesome beverage that could be stored and consumed year-round. “Hard” cider provided nutrients generally lacking from the American diet in the many years before refrigeration and mass transit filled our markets. The Shelton’s orchard is dedicated to exploring the varieties of apple that can thrive in Albemarle County, growing the dozen or so of those cultivars that are still existent as well as hundreds of other old-fashioned varieties. The Shelton family established Vintage Virginia Apples in 2000, and it has since grown to encompass a variety of tree fruits that are becoming increasingly rare. They have recently moved into the production of traditional hard cider, which is receiving rave reviews. The Sheltons are continuing to keep their family tradition vibrant through the apprenticeship of Chuck’s son Rob.


Learning Experience

Virginia History in Song

What can songs teach us about history?