Some people might be surprised to learn that the Washington area, and northern Virginia in particular, is home to many wineries. While my friend was visiting this fall, I knew that she would love to visit a couple, so I had initially planned that into our schedule. Upon reading an extensive Washington Post article about the many new hard cider breweries that have popped up in the region, a change to our schedule was necessary.
Our first stop was Distillery Lane Ciderworks in Jefferson, Maryland, not far from the city of Frederick. An apple orchard that grows a plethora of different apple varieties, Distillery Lane offers cider tastings in its cozy tasting room and store, as well as pick-your-own apples and pre-picked apples in season.
The tasting cost a reasonable $6, and included samples of five hard ciders plus the typical juice cider (amazing!), as well as the adorable souvenir glass. Distillery Lane brews many varieties of hard ciders -- their tasting card lists nineteen in the categories of sparkling, still, oak ages, seasonal, and limited release. What visitors taste depends on which they have on hand. We were offered Jefferson, which is aged in American oak, and Kingston Black, aged in bourbon barrels, as well as the seasonal Summer Buzz and Sweet Autumn, and the limited release Witch's Brew, which includes aronia berries.
After purchasing a bottle to take home, we headed to the barn to buy some pre-picked apples. With fifteen varieties to choose from -- including several we had never heard of -- making a decision was difficult. We were amused by the man working in the barn, who told us that he will eat up to twenty apples in a workday!
Particularly if you were to pick your own apples, Distillery Lane Ciderworks on its own would make for a perfect fall outing. Or you could combine a cider tasting with lunch in nearby Brunswick, a visit to Antietam National Battlefield or Gathland State Park. Yet another option is hiking Sugarloaf Mountain and sampling wines at Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard. Opportunities for daytrips in this area of Maryland are plentiful!