Historical Society highlights region’s apple heritage

Pippin and blacktwig, stamen and Grimes golden, Virginia beauty and winesap … once every housewife knew which apple to put in her pie, which to store in the root cellar, and which to send to the men for the cider press.

Learn more about the area’s apple heritage at the premier Augusta County Historical Society event, “Apples, Wine, & Song” on Sunday, October 24 at Barren Ridge Vineyards in Fishersville. While there, listen to the harmonies of folk singers Robin & Linda Williams, taste heirloom apples and fresh cider, and sip award winning wines.

Tickets to the day’s events ($40 each) provide entrance into one performance each of Robin and Linda Williams and Professor Apple (a.k.a. Tom Burford). Ticket holders also receive a Barren Ridge glass, tours of the vineyard, and unlimited wine tasting, fresh pressed cider tasting, and heirloom apple tasting along with other refreshments.

Once known as St. James Orchard, Barren Ridge Vineyards still echoes of its apple history in the elegant tasting room that was formerly an apple packing shed. A century ago, Augusta County led the state in apple production and every farm grew at least a few apple trees for home use. But those days are long forgotten as our nation’s consumer demands pushed for the perfect looking apple that could be shipped thousands of miles and still maintain its beauty, if not its taste, in a giant supermarket.

But taste, of course, is another matter. Twice during the day, Professor Apple (a.k.a. Tom Burford) of Amherst County, will regale audiences with the tale of the Virginia apple, describe the almost countless varieties that once existed, and talk about the unique tastes that have been sacrificed to modern consumer demands. Burford, whose family has been involved in the Virginia fruit story since the 1700s, knows apples from both the orchard side and the history side and has shared his knowledge of historic fruit production with museums around the country, including Monticello. His talks and workshops regularly have waiting lists and he has written numerous articles and books on the subject including Apples: A Catalog of International Varieties.

After your head is filled with apple stories and your stomach filled with the tastes of various heirloom varieties of apples washed down by Barren Ridge wine and fresh-pressed apple cider, then sit and relax to the tunes of fabulous folk musicians Robin and Linda Williams. The husband-and-wife duo, famous nationally for their work with public radio’s long-standing hit program A Prairie Home Companion, but rooted locally for the last four decades in southern Augusta County, will also perform twice during the day.

This fall event hosted by the Augusta County Historical Society is designed to celebrate the area’s rich apple heritage and support the society’s mission of “Preserving the Past for the Future.” Only 300 tickets ($40 each) will be sold to this exclusive event.

For a ticket order form, go to: www.augustacountyhs.org or call the historical society at 540.248.4151.

Edited by Chris Graham. Chris can be reached at freepress2@ntelos.net.

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