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An Apple a Day at Coyote Hole Ciderworks



There's something magical about the cool mountain air of Appalachia. For one thing, the mountainous terrain mixed with cool nights and warm days provides the perfect place to grow crisp apples. Apple farmers love it because when all that cool air sinks into the valleys at the bottom of the hills, it protects the fruit trees above them from frost.


Apples grown in climates that have warmer temperatures are less flavorful. They grow larger and are softer than apples grown in cooler climates. Additionally, apples often succumb to disease in areas where the summers are generally warm and humid.


But apples grown in Virginia are arguably the best apples, at least according to most Virginians. Apples grown in the western half of Virginia, at elevations of over 800 feet above sea level, are considered the best, although some apples grown in eastern Virginia rival supermarket apples.

One way Virginians use all those apples is to make one of the state's favorite drinks: apple cider. Coyote Hole Ciderworks was founded in 2016 by Laura and Chris Denkers. (The name has since been changed to Coyote Hole Craft Beverages.) Laura and Chris had been brewing beer at home and making wine and cider for many years. Their friends encouraged them to make their beverages available for purchase.


The Denkers named their business Coyote Hole after the holes gold prospectors made many years ago. Mineral Virginia (and the Lake Anna community) is known for its rich mining history, which is how the town of Mineral got its name. The holes the prospectors dug resembled the dens of coyotes, and folks referred to them as coyote holes, so the company's name is an homage to those days gone by.


The family-owned and operated cidery and brewery produces award-winning hard ciders, sangrias, wines, and craft beer made in their Lake Anna, Virginia, production facility.

Russ Colbourne, director of business operations for Coyote Hole, says that the company is 100% Virginia-sourced when it comes to its cider base. "Our hard ciders are locally sourced from the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, and every cider is made with 100% Virginia apples. We source fresh fruit from local farms and collaborate with as many local small businesses as we can. Our cider base is 100% Virginia-sourced. We never use concentrate, always 100% apple juice." The company takes pride in making cider and beer onsite, from plant to keg.


Coyote Hole features a tasting room as well as the Craft Kitchen -- a full restaurant with the cider and beer they make onsite available on tap. It's a fun stop for tourists and locals alike who want to sample Coyote Hole's premium hard cider, beer, and food. They are open all year long, seven days a week.

 

 Situated on twenty beautiful acres that are home to Oak Grove Orchards, visitors drive on a windy road to the top of the hill where Coyote Hole cidery and the orchard are located. The orchard produces several species of apples, pears, peaches, blackberries, blueberries, and many other fruits and vegetables used to make the ciders. Several families of deer roam the property, and there have been many sightings of coyotes, further solidifying the Coyote Hole name.        

Lake Anna is a special place, one many consider to be a hidden gem. The 13,000-acre lake is 17 miles long and has over 200 miles of shoreline. It has become one of the top tourist attractions in the state, with many visitors driving in from all along the eastern seaboard. While it is becoming trendy, it is still remote enough to keep its small-town charm.


"We also have tons of events throughout the year," says Russ. "We have live music here every Saturday in the spring and going into late fall. Most of our musicians are from right here in Virginia." Other regular events at Coyote Hole include the Lake Anna Comedy Night, the first Friday of each month, and plenty of festivals, including the Coyote Hole Brew Festival (September 21), Octoberfest (October 5), and Fall Festival (October 12). Coyote Hole is also the site of the Adult Easter Egg Hunt (March 30), Cider Palooza (May 18), Haunted Halloween Trail (last two weekends in October), and an animated light show throughout December. There are many more events throughout the year at Coyote Hole, from food truck days, open mic, trivia, and free outdoor movies.


The company produces a regular lineup of ciders and beers and an ever-changing selection of seasonal ciders. Coyote Hole products are distributed throughout Virginia and to Maryland, West Virginia, New York, New Jersey, DC, and Pennsylvania. "We are expanding our distribution west to Ohio and surrounding states," says Russ. "Folks can find our products in stores such as Giant, Wegmans, Total Wine, Harris Teeter, Kroger, Whole Foods, and Food Lion.

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