A Look Inside Old Hill Hard Cider

Showalter’s Orchard & Greenhouse, located in Timberville, Virginia is a family owned and operated orchard that has been in business for more than 50 years.

Visitors have the opportunity to pick apples fresh from the tree, shop the market store, or enjoy a glass of the orchards famous Old Hill Hard Cider—pressed and bottled on site—while overlooking 40 breath-taking acres of the Shenandoah Valley.

Showalter’s has been home Old Hill Hard Cider since 2011 after Sarah and Shannon Sholwater purchased the orchard in 2002.

“We began talking a lot about how to keep the orchard relevant, sustainable and profitable,” Sarah said. “We seriously considered establishing a winery.”

Shannon had been fermenting things since the couple met. One of their favorite libations being red wine.

“As we contemplated our next move the hard cider industry began to emerge and expand with a crazy vengeance,” Sarah said. “I was reluctant at first because, like many folks, the only ciders I had tried were sticky sweet ‘alcoholic soda’ types of

After much investigation and finding their likes and dislikes, it turned out that Shannon’s experience with wine-making, apple growing and juice production was a foundational part of what they needed to make cider.

By this point the Showlater’s had a lot of infrastructure for production—apples good for making cider, a press, a cold storage and existing traffic flow to establish a tasting room and retail market.

“In 2011 we had our first official production year and we began sales in May of 2012,” Sarah said. “Our growth has been phenomenal.”

With over 25 varieties of apples growing at the orchard, Old Hill now offers five main types of hard ciders —Yesteryear, Heritage, Cidermaker’s Barrel, Betwixt, and Season’s Finish. Different styles are offered throughout the year, depending on what the Cidermaker releases.

“This summer we released our Virginia Strawberry which was inspired by our Hydroponic Strawberries grown in our spring greenhouse,” Kelli Stover, the sales and marketing manager at Showalter’s, said. “Right now we have Farmhand and Apple Pie added to our limited releases.”

The cider is made from 100% apple juice and has become very popular among fans for being gluten free.

“No additives or concentrate for us, all apples,” Stover said.

The process of making Old Hill Cider depends the type of apple Shannon chooses and how long he decides to age the juice. In short, the apples are picked, pressed, aged anywhere from 3-12 months, filtered, hand bottled and labeled before hitting the market shelves.

“We age all our cider in stainless steal tanks, just like wine. All the apples are collected at Harvest, August-November, and the cider is made during the Fall,” Stover said.

Looking to experience the delicious flavors of Old Hill? The cider is available for purchase at the orchards market store and year around at the orchards tasting room.

“Right now we have a cozy building right next to the apple barn. It actually use to be the
previous apple barn,” Stover said. “The building has a lot of character. When it gets a little cooler the wood stove is on.”

The Showlater’s will soon be adding a brand new space to hold private or public events with 360 degree views of the Valley.

“This is a somewhat daunting adventure to embark on, but we can’t wait to see what the future holds,” Stover said. “We hope to have this done by summer 2018.”

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