ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (CBS19 NEWS) -- Virginia Cider Week kicks off Friday, but the weeklong celebration of Virginia hard cider got an early start with a ribbon-cutting at a new facility in Albemarle County.
Governor Ralph Northam attended a ribbon-cutting for the new tasting room for Potter's Craft Cider in southern Albemarle County.
"I can think of no better way to kick off Virginia Cider Week than by celebrating the continued growth and success of one of our most established and innovative cider producers," Northam said. "Businesses like Potter's Craft Cider are quickly making cider a core component of Virginia's ripening craft beverage industry, creating new markets for our apple producers, supporting local farmers, and bringing new economic opportunity to our rural communities."
Potter's Craft Cider has been in operation since 2011 and is one of the oldest producers of the product in Virginia, sourcing all of its apples from Virginia orchards and releasing more than a dozen cider varieties.
In January, Northam announced the company would be investing $1.56 million to expand and relocate its production facility from Free Union to the historic Neve Hall, a former Episcopalian church and school that was built in 1924 to serve families in the Ragged Mountains area of the county.
Along with creating a dozen new jobs and adding six million pounds of apples to what the company already purchases from Virginia orchards, it also worked to preserve the buildings and restore their grounds.
Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring, who also attended Thursday's ribbon-cutting, says Virginia is one of the top ten apple-producing states in the United States, which contributes about $235 million to the state's economy each year.
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with Albemarle County to secure this project, and Northam approved $50,000 from the Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund for it.
Albemarle County and the Albemarle County Economic Development Authority will match the grant funding with local monies.
Virginia was the first state\ in the U.S. to create Cider Week back in 2012, designating the full week before Thanksgiving to celebrate the product.
This year, Virginia Week runs Nov. 15 through 24 and it will be highlighting more than two dozen cideries and their impacts on agriculture.
For more information about Virginia Cider Week, click on the link in the Related Links box.