Since hard cider splashed onto the scene some years ago, cideries and breweries have infinitely grown. They’re producing more complex and interesting brews that are a far cry from the sweet drink some might still think of. While there are tons to visit, Bold Rock Cider just might be your next stop with good reason. And with a new cidery opening up this past October, there are more opportunities to visit where their cider is born.
Nestled in Henderson County—Mills River to be exact—Bold Rock is often overlooked. Though it’s closer to Hendersonville, the brewery is less than an hour outside of Asheville and is an easy change of scenery for an escape from the city’s traffic. Cider might be a relatively new by-product of apples for Henderson County, but the crop has a longstanding history here. In fact, they produce enough apples each year that both Mrs. Smith pies and Gerber use local farms to find the best apples for their pies and baby food.
Just a 15-minute drive from Mills River, Hendersonville is home to one huge apple celebration each year. The North Carolina Apple Festival is held there each Labor Day weekend to welcome in the start of the harvest season, but the farms have groves that can be harvested throughout the fall. Stalls fill the streets, and apples in all forms are sold, from juice and cider to fritters and pies. There are kids games, music and hayrides too. After the annual kickoff, visit Bold Rock for more adult fun.
October rings in North Carolina’s peak fall foliage, though a visit around Thanksgiving is also a treat—and a break from the family. Tours and tastings are given daily between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., and later to 8 p.m. on the weekend. Relax on the patio or find a seat indoors as you sip one of their award-winning ciders with beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. For an introductory tasting, order the Flagship Flight, which will give you a try of four basic ciders.
Mills River isn’t the only home of Bold Rock, of course. Headquartered in Nellysville, Va., it has two other locations in Old Dominion, in Charlottesville and Crozet. And if you can’t make it to one of their cideries, you can find their products up and down the east coast, from Pennsylvania to Georgia. If you want a crisp taste of the fall, no matter what season it is, Mills River or Bold Rock’s other locations might be worth a weekend trip.
Molly Harris is a freelance journalist. You can often find her on the highway somewhere between Florida and North Carolina or taking life slow in Europe.