The press is on for cider production in Henderson County. Several local entrepreneurs plan to ferment county apples into hard cider for a thirsty buying public, while other area apple growers look forward to sourcing their crop to a growing craft beverage market.
One local winery, Saint Paul Mountain Vineyard on Chestnut Gap Road, has already produced 1,000 gallons of fermented cider, using apples pressed by local farmer Wayne Barnwell. They plan to increase production to 3,000 gallons next year and hope other county growers will follow their lead, said owner Alan Ward.
“There’s a lot of potential for people to not just jump in on the gold rush, but to make this area like Vermont, where hard ciders are made correctly,” said Ward, who sees cider-making as an important piece Henderson County’s agritourism future.
As Saint Paul begins bottling their debut batch next weekend, other local growers are investigating their own hard cider operations, looking to tap into a ripening market for adult craft beverages partly brought on by Sierra Nevada and Oskar Blues brewery expansions.
Three cideries are set to open in Asheville in coming months.