Stable Craft Brewing adds craft ciders to product mix

stable craft brewingStable Craft Brewing in Augusta County is adding a line of craft ciders to its product offerings, with an investment of more than $200,000 in a new farm-winery operation that will create six new jobs and will involve the planting of 75-150 apple trees to the farm over the next two years.

Stable Craft, which currently employs 32 people, launched in 2016, and through its distribution partner, the Augusta County-based AgriBev Distribution, a wholesale beer and wine distributor, it sells its award-winning beers throughout Central and Western Virginia.

Having previously received an Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Grant in 2017, Stable Craft has committed to purchase Virginia ingredients. The operation is focused on local product offerings and currently flavors its craft beer with produce from Valley farms.

Stable Craft is committed to supporting the robust agriculture economy in the Shenandoah Valley, distinguished by the location of four of the top five agriculture-producing counties in Virginia, one of which is Augusta County.

“We can grow our own fruits and source Virginia ingredients to better our economy, and the entire time we can share this work and experience directly with our guests when they visit our farm,” Stable Craft owner Craig Nargi said.

The addition of craft ciders to the Stable Craft brand will help the company reach more customers, and will be a nice fit at the Augusta County farm that is home to Stable Craft and its sister business, Hermitage Hill Farm & Stables, a premier event venue that opened in 2008.

“Stable Craft is a unique combination of tourism and manufacturing,” said Gerald Garber, chair of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors and representative of the Middle River District where Stable Craft is located. “Food and beverage is imperative to Augusta County and the Shenandoah Valley, and we embrace our entrepreneurs who are growing their own notion of today’s agriculture.”

Stable Craft obtained a farm-winery license on June 1, which will allow the business to partner immediately with other wineries to offer ciders and wines to the tasting room at Stable Craft and to guests at wedding events at Hermitage Hill.

Stable Craft expects to have guest cider taps and wine available this month.

“We are seeking to enhance our visitors to the brewery by broadening our audience and being able to tell our agriculture story. Farm to glass just got more exciting,” Nargi said. “We have had so many people ask for wine and cider with our special events and tasting room, and now we can answer the request.”

Over the summer, the staff will be working to experiment with creating craft ciders, and testing new flavors in the tasting room at Stable Craft.

The goal is to have a full lineup of Stable Craft ciders to roll out in November for Virginia Craft Cider week, Nargi said.

Nargi, a chef and restauranteur, has some ideas in mind as to what that menu will be.

“Having grown up in New England, apple orchards were everywhere, and the fall harvest soft ciders I remember to be spicy, pulpy sweet, a delicacy of the orchard,” Nargi said. “The cider goals include traditional, barrel-aged, New England, crisp and several very daring styles that will certainly create interest. But we are not rushing.”

Story by Chris Graham

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